THE OMBUDSWOMAN is lying, threatening police officers and harassing the government on political grounds, Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák said of efforts by Ombudswoman Jana Dubovcová to shed light on a violent police raid on a Roma settlement last year.
The government invited Dubovcová to its meeting on January 8. However, instead of listening to her findings, Prime Minister Robert Fico lectured her on the proper way to defend human rights and the legal conditions surrounding such cases, Dubovcová said.
“It was not a discussion but a monologue of one man [Fico],” Dubovcová said, as quoted by the Sme daily. “I was not allowed to say anything and in the end they even instructed me.”
On June 19, 2013, 63 police officers raided the Roma settlement just outside Moldava nad Bodvou in eastern Slovakia, purportedly seeking seven men for which they had arrest warrants. They found none of those men, but violence ensued and 15 other Roma were taken to the police station.
Several of those Roma were injured, and at least one of them contends that he underwent two more severe beatings at the police station. A second alleges he left the station bleeding from his rectum. An NGO active in the settlement, ETP Slovensko, documented the injuries with photographs.
A review of the incident by the Interior Ministry found no flaws in the tactics deployed by police. Dubovcová then wrote a report condemning the police raid, but that document never made it before the full parliament as it was shelved by a lower-level committee dominated by the ruling Smer party.
Kaliňák insists that Dubovcová submitted her report in conflict with the law since she should first approach the regional police offices and then the Interior Ministry. Every state body should follow the law and she has violated it several times, he told the TASR newswire.
“She has not contacted the regional [police] department. She sent some of her people there, who were threatening police officers, saying they will strip them of their uniforms,” Kaliňák said, as quoted by TASR.
Dubovcová prepared two sets of findings, one related to the police and a second for the Interior Ministry, she told the press. She contacted the government because the ministry did not fulfil its legal obligation to inform her about measures adopted to prevent such cases. Since the ministry does not have a supervising body, Dubovcová used her last option to speak to the government, the SITA newswire reported.
“The words of the Prime Minister showed that he does not have the correct information; therefore his conclusions are in conflict with the legal order,” Dubovcová said, as quoted by Sme.
The ombudswoman should focus on people whose rights were violated and in this case those are citizens of Moldava nad Bodvou, Kaliňák said.
“I think it is sick,” he told TASR.
Dubovcová explained that she neither stated who is responsible for the mistakes nor proposed any personnel changes, but asked the state to adopt measures in order to record similar police operations by camera. Another proposal for the police was to make records at police stations even for people who are detained and then released. Dubovcová did not question the powers of her post, but pointed out that sometimes the authorities should show good will toward her office.
“It is a matter of the political culture and [preserving] democracy in a legal state,” Dubovcová said, as quoted by SITA.
13. Jan 2014 at 0:00 | Roman Cuprik