Czech Republic: Demonstration against scandalous verdict acquitting Slovak Police of abusing Romani children
At the end of February a court in Slovakia acquitted police officers accused of having abused Romani children aged between 11 and 15 who had been suspected of injuring and robbing an older woman. According to the indictment, the officers forced the children to strip and to beat each other, among other things.
The officers filmed their abuse of the children on their own mobile telephones. The court, however, refused to recognize those recordings as evidence.
The verdict has sparked many embittered reactions in Slovakia, and on Wednesday 11 March about 25 activists gathered at 3:30 PM in front of the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Prague to protest the verdict. "The court's decision is a shocking reality for us. Humanity, justice, and sound judgment are being suppressed. We are demonstrating to draw attention to this topic," said Ivana Čonková on behalf of the demonstration organizers.
Activists also delivered an open letter to the Slovak President, Prime Minister and Interior Minister calling on them to take an interest in the case and thoroughly investigate the police behavior. "We have gathered here to express our disagreement with the court's decision in the matter of the brutality and violence committed against Romani children in Košice. The verdict has shocked society. We want to express our desire to see the law upheld and justice done in this matter," Čonková said at the start of the demonstration.
Organizers read extracts from the Constitution of the Slovak Republic and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and reminded those gathered of the existence of the Children's Ombud, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Code of Ethics for members of the Police Corps. As they read these documents, there was a performance by the artistic group Romane Kale Panthera in which five children wearing blue vests with the Romani wheel laid the documents in front of the entrance to the Slovak Embassy; at the end of the "happening", activists delivered their open letter to representatives of the embassy.
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