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Criminality level in Roma communities is much lower than the average for Ukraine

Crime rate in Roma community is much less than average in Ukraine despite the widespread stereotype. Expert Oleh Martynenko stated this on July, 31 during the round table in the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights’ office, commenting on the results of the research “Monitoring of Roma rights compliance in the activities of law enforcement authorities”. The research was conducted by experts and non-governmental organizations’ representatives supported by International Renaissance Foundation program “Roma of Ukraine”.

“In the conscience of the most people there is a stereotypical perception of Roma as antisocial population group. But let’s operate with the facts and state statistics. For example, compare the number of crimes committed by Roma and the average statistics in Ukraine. The analysis of this comparison in Zakarpattya, Odesa, Poltava and Cherkasy regions, where numerous Roma communities are settled, indicates the coefficient of Roma crime rate is 2.5 times less that the crime rate in Ukraine”, - Oleh Martynenko announced.

During the research texts of court decisions (concerning the indication of defendants’ ethnicity) and the state statistics were analyzed.

Natalya Kozarenko, the regional coordinator of public relations of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights in Kherson region, commented on the results of the analysis: “Only in the criminal cases’ materials of the Unified State Register of the Court Decisions which has been functioning since 2006, the word “gypsy” is used in 1066 decisions. The analysis of verdicts’ texts shows that the nationality “Roma” or “gypsy” is used 5 times more than the nationality “Ukrainian”. Not a single time was the mention of nationality explained by objective reasoning”.

The separate component of the monitoring included sociological research which demonstrated that 51% of Roma of those who took part in the research were visited by the police according to the place of residence, 35% were unreasonably searched, 66% were stopped by the police for examination of documents in public places.

Maria Kolokolova, the expert of Kharkiv institute of social researches, commented: “Roma people do not trust the police, they are even scared of it, because they constantly feel biased attitude and often become the victims of rights’ violations. Police is stigmatizing this ethnic minority by thinking that it should be treated more attentively than the population in general by unlawful searches of places of residence and cars, documents checking on the streets, detaining for photos and fingerprinting”.

Event’s participants also discussed the effects of discrimination on the ground of national origin for each citizen of Ukraine. Olga Zhmurko, the director of the International Renaissance Foundation program “Roma of Ukraine” said that the results of the monitoring have complex meaning – starting from the protection of rights of Roma ethnic minority, which has been the task of the foundation for more than 15 years, - and in the more wide context – human rights protection and discrimination on the ground of national origin prevention. As she mentioned, now each person can be unlawfully searched because he or she is of Roma nationality or looks like Roma; later person with any other characteristic can become suspicious.

The aim of “Roma of Ukraine” program is to facilitate the integration of Roma into Ukrainian society by improving the education level, access to health care services, rights protection, and by building leadership and opportunities of Roma youth.

Contacts: “Roma of Ukraine”
Olga Zhmurko
(044) 461 95 00
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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