Amnesty International: No justice one year after attack on a Romani camp in Ukraine
Amnesty International, a human rights organization, said in a press release issued on 24 April 2019 that the Ukrainian authorities must provide justice for the victims of the assault on a Romani encampment in Kyiv's Lysa Hora Park that was perpetrated on 21 April 2018 by members of an ultra-right group promoting discrimination and hatred. "We heard strong declarations of condemnation from the highest officials, who pledged to deliver justice for the victims... but where are we one year later?" asked Oksana Pokalchukova, the director of Amnesty International in Ukraine.
"What the Ukrainian authorities have undertaken during the last 12 months is far from an effective investigation. They have done little to aid the victims of this shameless hate crime," the press release states.
After the attack its perpetrators openly communicated about their actions and bragged about them online, and one who is a member of a group that defends discrimination and hatred publicly took credit for the assault on his personal Facebook profile. He was arrested in July 2018, but in November he was released after a court decided that police had committed procedural violations.
The prosecutor appealed that decision in the interim, but the hearing of the appeal has been postponed six times. The authorities have not managed to identify any other perpetrators and bring them to trial.
"Attacks against Romani people in Ukraine are becoming more and more brutal and the consequence is at least two deaths during the past year. Trials have not yet been held even in cases where the perpetrators of these crimes have been identified and taken into custody," the AI-Ukraine director said.
"Amnesty is calling for the people responsible for these assaults to be given a fair trial. The central point of their prosecution must be the discriminatory motivation of their crimes," the press release states.
"For the time being, in Ukraine, that kind of prosecution is rare in judicial practice. The victims of this attack must be compensated," the AI-Ukraine director said.
During the night of 21 April and the early morning hours of 22 April, members of the ultra-right group called C14, known for advocating discrimination and hatred, attacked the Romani encampment in Lysa Hora Park in Kyiv. Armed with hammers and knives, they set the tents on fire and drove their inhabitants - children, men and women - away.
C14 bragged about the attack on their Facebook page and one of their leaders warned that more might follow. On 23 June, masked men armed with knives and other weapons attacked a Romani camp in Lviv in western Ukraine; one man died and four were injured as a result, including a 10-year-old boy.
On 1 July, unidentified assailants stabbed a 30-year-old Romani woman to death in Berehovo in the Transcarpathian region of western Ukraine. Over the last two years, Amnesty has documented constant growth in hate crimes in Ukraine.
The reaction to these crimes by the authorities is inconsistent - on some occasions they have addressed the problems, especially by providing effective protection during the last three Pride marches in Kyiv, and by providing effective protection on 8 March 2019 during street events demonstrating for women's rights in Ukraine. However, the perpetrators of numerous attacks, including against LGBTI+ persons, Romani people, and women's rights activists, have enjoyed almost absolute impunity.
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