Ombudswoman: Police used unnecessary violence

THE POLICE raid on the village of Vrbnica  in the Košice region on April 2 wasn't necessary, and the police officers involved used inappropriate force and violated the basic human rights of 15 people in the process, Ombudswoman Jana Dubovcová stated on July 13. The Interior Ministry labels her conclusions "premature". 

A man from a Roma settlement in Vrbnica shows his bruises allegedly caused by police.A man from a Roma settlement in Vrbnica shows his bruises allegedly caused by police. (Source: TASR)

Dubovcová called on Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar to tackle the situation and to examine the motivation of the police in such operations, as these could be incited by anti-Roma attitudes, the TASR newswire reported.

"Just as in the case of the police operation at Budulovská settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou this raid wasn't necessary in a democratic state and under the rule of law. The police needn't have carried it out in the way that they did, and they shouldn't have done it with the intention stated," said Dubovcová as quoted by TASR.

The ombudswoman listed potential reasons that enable the police to use force. These, for instance, include cases that involve ensuring national and public safety, and/or when preventing riots and crime. These conditions weren't met, according to Dubovcová.

 Dubovcova went on to criticise the fact that the police invaded the homes of the affected Roma based on assumptions alone, even though the police are entitled to do this only if it is certain that the wanted individuals are inside. The ombudswoman concluded that there is no unbiased and independent investigation body in the system to investigate any disputed police raids.

Furthermore, Dubovcová mentioned statistics that could indicate that several police raids carried out over the past two years have been racially motivated. Dubovcová pointed to statistics based on which the police have carried out no raids in Bratislava region but have done so 259 times in Prešov region.

"Such [anti-Roma] motivation can't be ruled out here," she complained.

The Interior Ministry maintains that Dubovcová has arrived at a "premature conclusion".

The investigation into the alleged misuse of authority of public officials in the case is still ongoing. Apart from this, the Interior Ministry is preparing a legislative amendment to deal with the use of cameras during raids, the ministry’s spokesperson Andrea Dobiášová stated.

In relation to the aforementioned investigation, the Interior Ministry's inspectorate has already carried out 17 interrogations of the injured parties, three examinations of unhurt witnesses and ten hearings of police officers.

"At the same time 16 physical examinations in the presence of an expert have been carried out, medical reports of the injured persons secured, and an expert medical examination has taken place," said Dobiášová, adding that it would be helpful to let the Interior Ministry's inspectors do their work without putting public pressure on them.

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