Ethnic profiling of the Roma community

In the case Lingurar v. Romania (application no. 48474/14, 16/04/2019) 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 case concerned a raid in 2011 by 85 police and gendarmes on the Roma community in Vâlcele (Romania) on 15 December 2011.

The Court stated that the applicants had been left with injuries requiring medical care after the raid, which had attained the minimum level of severity under Article 3 and that there had been no justification for the disproportionate use of force during the raid on the applicant family’s home. 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.

The Court noted that, to justify the raid, the Government had submitted a police intervention plan which had been drafted before 15 December 2011. The plan made it clear that the raid was to target ethnic Roma because of their anti-social behavior and the high crime rate among that group. Similarly, the investigators had explained the applicants’ alleged aggressiveness by their ethnic traits or habits “specific to Roma”. The applicants had thus been targeted because they were Roma and because the authorities had perceived the Roma community in general as criminal.

The Court noted evidence provided by the parties showing that Roma communities were often confronted with institutionalized racism. The applicants themselves had complained to the authorities about such systemic violence during the investigation into their allegations, but authorities failed to investigate whether discrimination had played a role in the raid. Thus, there had also been a violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 3 as concerned the investigation.

References from the official website of the European Court of Human Rights