Open Statement about the Incident with the Romani settlement in Lviv

On the night of July 21 to 22, 2017, at Koniushynna Str. in Lviv, a Romani settlement was burnt down. About 60 people lived there, of which 20 were children. Immediately after the incident, all the residents of the camp left it and moved to Zakarpattia.

The events mentioned above took place after a speech of Liubomyr Bossanevich on July 20 at the session of the Lviv City Council. He called for more rigorous methods of combating the Roma who filled the city. In particular, the deputy from the “UKROP” party proposed to conduct raids at Koniushynna Str., where the Roma people stayed and to resettle them to Uzhhorod.

In the previous statements, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has already drawn the attention of the authorities and society to the inadmissibility of a similar course of events in Loshchynivka of Odessa Oblast (2016), Dniprovskyi, Darnytskyi, and Sviatoshinskyi Districts of Kyiv (2012 and 2017).

We strongly condemn such methods of solving the problem of spontaneous settlements in different regions of Ukraine and require a thorough investigation of the circumstances of all these incidents.

Destruction of the Romani settlements and, in some cases, forced evictions from their places of temporary residence, unfortunately, has become a traditional manifestation of discrimination and xenophobia against them in Ukraine, which has the character of ethnic cleansing. Such actions by the authorities violate Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to respect for private and family life), Article 14 of the European Convention (prohibition of discrimination), Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention (the right to property), which are reflected in the case-law: Yordanova and Others v. Bulgaria; Bagdonavicius and others v. Russia; Connors v. The United Kingdom, Winterstein and Others v. France, etc.

Given the systemic nature of human rights violations against the Roma, we urge the law enforcement agencies to conduct an effective and impartial investigation into allegations of offenses concerning the fire at the Romani settlement and bring the perpetrators to justice; local authorities – to review approaches to solving the problem of spatial settlements, to strengthen cooperation with Roma national societies in the regions, central authorities – to monitor the legitimacy of local authorities, maximize efforts to eliminate manifestations of intolerance, discrimination, racism, and xenophobia throughout Ukraine.

Arkadiy Buschenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Yevhen Zakharov, Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

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