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Romania: Roma family awarded €49,000 after police ethnic profiling human rights breaches

Police in Romania discriminated against a Roma family by using ethnic profiling to justify a raid on their home.

The case Lingurar v. Romania (application no. 48474/14) concerned a raid in 2011 by 85 police and gendarmes on the Roma community in Vâlcele (Romania).

In its committee judgment in the case the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held, that there had been:

a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights as concerned the ill-treatment of the applicant family during the raid,

and

two violations of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 3 because the raid had been racially motivated and the related investigation had been ineffective.

The applicants, Aron Lingurar, Ana Maria Lingurar, Aron Lingurar, and Elena Lingurar, are Romanian nationals who were born in in 1949, 1994, 1985, and 1957 respectively and live in Vâlcele. They are all Roma.

As Just Satisfaction(Article 41), the court held that Romania was to pay each applicant 11,700 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 2,251 in respect of costs and expenses.

According to the applicant family, several police officers and gendarmes wearing special intervention clothing, including balaclavas, broke down their front door during the raid in the early hours of 15 December 2011, dragged them out of bed and beat them.

The two male family members were  further abused in the yard, then taken to the local police station for questioning. They were released the same day with a fine for illegally cutting timber.

The family went to the local hospital after the raid for treatment of abdominal and chest pain, and bruising. Medical reports for three of the applicants concluded that their injuries could have been caused by them being hit with hard objects.

The court found that there had been no justification for the disproportionate use of force during the raid on the applicant family’s home, which had left them with injuries requiring treatment in hospital.

The applicants had been unarmed and had never been accused of any violent crime, while the four gendarmes who had raided their home had been highly trained in rapid intervention.

It found that the applicants had been targeted because the authorities had perceived the Roma community in general as criminal.

That had amounted to ethnic profiling and had been discriminatory.

The judgment is final.

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