Slovak police said to have proceeded correctly during intervention at Romani settlement
Yesterday Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák told journalists that his ministry's Inspectorate has found that the Slovak Police did not commit any errors during an intervention at a Romani settlement in eastern Slovakia this past June. NGOs and Romani residents had protested the alleged brutality of the police during the incident.
Activists said several dozen riot police came to the settlement of Moldava nad Bodvou and performed house searches. They said the intervention was disproprotionate and that witnesses said the officers had behaved aggressively toward local residents.
International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Center called on the authorities to investigate the intervention. "In this case I am backing the intervention undertaken by the police because it was performed correctly," Kaliňák said, adding that the reported brutality of the police operation had been wrongly exaggerated.
Kaliňák also rejected reports that a minor was injured during the maneuvers. He said the use of force against seven people in the settlement had been justified.
The minister added that the police perform these kinds of interventions regularly. Last year they conducted more than 200 of them.
Civic association ETP Slovensko, which provides social services in the settlement, insists that several people were injured during the police operation. Some reportedly had to seek medical treatment.
The Slovak media, referring to testimony by Romani residents, reported earlier that the police intervention might have been related to a previous conflict in which settlement residents damaged a police vehicle. The police have denied that version of events and say the operation had been planned in advance and was a search for wanted persons.
Officers detained 15 people after the house searches. Seven of them were wanted on either suspicion of committing a felony or on misdemeanor charges.
Police are also facing criticism for the fact that the intervention was not filmed, as that might have assisted those not present in evaluating whether the maneuvers were proportionate. Kaliňák said he is counting on officers using video cameras in similar cases in the future.
Witnesses said the riot police intervention was very brutal. "The officers went from house to house, breaking down doors, breaking in windows and furniture, and assaulting locals very aggressively without communicating with them in any kind of reasonable way. People were injured, several of our clients had to seek medical attention," Martin Vavrinčík of ETP Slovensko told the Slovak media.
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