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August 24, 2019
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Romania loses at the European Court of Human Rights, must compensate Roma family for police brutality

28.4.2019 14:30
The police in Romania. (PHOTO:  Dickelbers, wikimedia commons)
The police in Romania. (PHOTO: Dickelbers, wikimedia commons)

The European Court of Human Rights has instructed Romania to pay compensation to the Lingurar family, whose members were injured by a brutal intervention committed against them by police officers. The incident occurred in the early morning hours of 15 December 2011 in the town of Vâlcele in western Romania.

The family is to be paid EUR 49 000 total in compensation. According to a news item about the judgment publicized by the court, the officers broke down the front door to the Lingurar home when the family were asleep.

Police pushed four people from their beds to the floor and began beating them. Some officers were wearing balaclavas and were members of Special Forces.

The officers then took two male family members into the courtyard and beat them further. They were then taken to the station for interrogation and released the next day after being fined for allegedly harvesting timber illegally.

The family was then treated in a nearby hospital for the injuries they sustained and, according to the medical reports, their injuries had been caused by some sort of heavy objects, most probably nightsticks. At the time of the incident the family was unarmed, and none of its members had ever been convicted of any violent crimes in the past.

According to the court, there was no reason for the police to proceed against them so brutally. In 2012 the family filed a crime report against the officers involved, but the courts in Romania refused to consider the case more than once, saying there was not enough evidence.

A change in the case did not come until 2014, when it reached the European Court of Human Rights. That court found the case admissible and has ruled that the assault by the officers was brutal and unacceptable in a country that has adopted the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court also rejected the police version of events, which claimed the Romani people were intervened against because they had "resisted arrest". It has also been demonstrated that the brutal attack was racially motivated, as the police assumed the family would be criminals just because of their ethnic origin.

Moreover, according to the court, what is termed "institutional racism", or racism committed by state bodies, is something that happens in Romania, and this case was an example of it. The proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights lasted five years, but the family has now emerged victorious.

The court has instructed the state to pay each injured family member EUR 11 700 for non-pecuniary damages and another EUR 2 251 to cover the costs and expenditures associated with bringing their lawsuit. Overall there were approximately 85 officers deployed during the brutal raid on the Romani community in the town of Vâlcele who assaulted other Romani residents there besides the Lingurar family in a very brutal way.

SB, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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European Court of Human Rights, Police, Racism, Romania



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