“SINCE the very beginning I have had the impression that the investigation wouldn’t be just,”says Igor, a man from the Budulovská settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou who was recently featured in an Al Jazeera documentary about the police probe in the raid that left him and dozens of others from his village brutally beaten.
The results of the investigation have not been fully revealed, but it is clear from the documents that The Slovak Spectator obtained recently that no transgressions were found on the part of the police in four of the six points of the motion, including abuse of powers of a public official and the crime of torture.
Though such investigations and their results cannot be evaluated based on emotion, there is more than that to suggest that the conclusion not to punish or reproach anyone for what happened three years ago in Moldava’s Roma settlement is highly questionable.
Ombudswoman Jana Dubovcová has repeatedly criticised the conduct of the police during the raid and went so far as to lead an open conflict with the interior minister over the incident. But she was not alone. International organisations, including the Regional Office of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) point out that the prosecution started six months after the raid took place and then it took another year and half to complete.
“If police authorities really would like to stop police atrocities they would act swiftly, professionally, and very fast to find those who are responsible and sanction them,” ERRC Executive Director András Ujlaky said.
At this point it is still not clear if the whole case will end up closed with the conclusion that there were no mistakes. If that turns out to be the case, it will be just the latest episode that confirms the seemingly never ending discrimination against the Roma minority.
Unfortunately, in Slovakia today, hardly anyone will raise their eyebrows over this. In the past people were not sensitive enough to discrimination, but things have gotten much worse in recent months.
Hostility towards minorities, towards otherness, is now on the rise due to the wave of migrants flowing to Europe – although not to Slovakia – and the way the government has framed the whole issue.
Dividing people into “Us” and “Them” is now a typical feature of most of Prime Minister Robert Fico’s statements about migrants, refugees, foreigners, Muslims, and so forth. He explicitly says that “our” security is more important than “their” rights.
Such statements allow discrimination or even open racism to be tolerated. Such statements inherently prepare the ground for any future divisions to be excused easily, or, worse still, to go unnoticed. Some analysts say that the ruling Smer has employed the rhetoric of extremists. “Not even Le Pen would say such a thing,” Anne Dastakian, a French reporter of the leftist daily Liberation, said in an interview for the Sme daily when she heard Fico linking the refugee crisis with terrorist attacks.
Smer employed such rhetoric in order to strengthen its campaign message “We protect Slovakia”, and now statements that decent politicians should never utter are mainstream. In other words, they are becoming a normal, everyday form of communication that does not disturb anyone – if it ever did.
Sadly, Smer has little or no motivation to change this, since the strategy seems to be working. Its preferences among voters are close to 40 percent. As long as that is the case, it is easy to predict who will have the upper hand in Moldava-style controversies.
1. Dec 2015 at 10:00 | Michaela Terenzani