Sweden: Lawsuit over police list of Romani people begins
A Swedish nonprofit organization is suing the state over its police registry of Romani people, which contained the personal data of persons connected by nothing but their ethnicity. News server Newsweek.com reported on the case yesterday.
The police administration in the town of Skane in southern Sweden has been charged with creating a registry of 4 700 Romani people on the basis of their ethnic origin. According to the human rights organization, this violates the Swedish law on protecting personal information and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Details of the registry, labelled "Travellers", were first published by the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter in 2013. According to Rosario Ali, whose name turned up in the registry, it was created because of a family conflict during which criminal activity was allegedly perpetrated.
Ali himself, however, does not know the family who were involved and had nothing to do with the conflict. Moreover, the list, according to him, contained data about children, deceased persons, and Romani people who no longer live in Sweden.
"You have the feeling that the state authorities exist to protect you, but it's not like that anymore, because this register was created by the police. It was not created because of anything you had actually done in your life, but was created solely on the basis of who you are, what your ethnic origins are. I think that's rather horrifying," Ali said.
The registry was first investigated in 2013. The Swedish Commission for Security and Integrity acknowledged at the time that it was illegal and the victims were offered compensation in the amount of 5 000 Swedish crowns (EUR 535).
The reason for the compensation, however, was that the registry's aim was unclear and its framework too broad, not that it was based on ethnicity. This new lawsuit is, therefore, an effort to finally clarify what the reason was for listing specific individuals in the registry and to draw attention to the discrimination against Romani people in Sweden.
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