Slovak police commandos might be using Roma communities for intervention drills

By • on April 12, 2013

It is well known that Slovak police interventions in Roma communities are often brutal and unlawful. We can even say that Roma communities serve like real training grounds for the police commandos.

It is against the law to enter and search private premises without the court’s permission. However, police commandos do not seem to worry about this, bursting into homes from settlements whenever they feel like. The higher officers often cover the backs of those involved as if they do not know anything about it. A number of Roma who have experienced such a raid confessed that they were not at all legitimate or rightful.

The reasons why the commandos have this action movie behavior when they enter Roma communities are almost always the same. Police commandos are looking for people who received a notice but ignored the police summons, who are wanted based on an arrest warrant or court order, or who are missing.

If a police commando is looking for a person who is a non-Roma, the law is always respected and it is unthinkable that the swat team should enter a house without a court order. But if the commando is looking for a Roma, the whole settlement or community is turned upside-down. They search every corner, kick in a few doors while shouting, hitting and cursing. They ask things which are not connected to their purpose and make threats, even to children, elderly or disabled people.

Last time the police commandos visited Ondavské Matiašovce in east Slovakia, they wanted to bring Romani boys who committed a crime to an interrogation. But such a raid was not even necessary because the boys had just come the day before to a hearing without putting up a resistance. They confessed and cooperated. Despite that, the heavily armed commandos came in, found the boys, handcuffed them and dragged the young criminals out, ordering bystanders not to watch. For Roma who never experienced anything similar, it was a terrible scene. One woman with a heart disorder even had a seizure after this so-called visit.

The same also happened six months ago in the Kežmarok region in three settlements with a Roma majority: Stráne pod Tatrami, Podhorany and Huncovce.

Commandos stormed in for the same reasons stated above. According to residents, the team performed the entry and search without the court’s permission while verbally assaulting the onlookers. When people came out of other houses, the team searched them too. The commando hit and even handcuffed an invalid whom they pulled out of his bed. They scared the children and slapped a couple of youngsters, forcing them to reveal where the wanted person is and asking how they pay for electricity, potatoes and wood.

And since the policemen were already in the settlement, they did what pleased them. They intimidated other Roma who were looking on from the windows of their houses. According to witnesses, the commando hit a man who left his house with his little son. The man had just wanted to go out and let the son play outside the way he did every morning. When he lit a cigarette, the commando jumped at him, slapped him across the face and kicked him to the ground, forcing him to say where the wanted were. They then entered a house and searched every nook and cranny for the wanted.

After a morning raiding the Roma communities, Daniel Džobaník, the speaker of KRPZ Prešov, confirmed that the raiders found one convicted person, two people who did not show up after receiving a court summons and other two who trespassed. According to Džobaník, the police did not perform any house searches.

“In order to conduct a house search, a court warrant is necessary,” Džobaník declared for the Roma Press Agency who covered the case. Nevertheless, all the Roma present during the raid insist that several houses were searched.

To conclude, the police commandos can obviously do whatever they please in Roma communities. The officials will always claim that all happened according to law and no wrongdoings or offenses took place during raids.

Kamil Bačo, the deputy mayor of Pod Tatrami, emphasized that the municipality will seek information about the raid from a competent source. But the members of the community already know how lawful everything was.