Registration of Roma: A violation of human rightsThis week, Swedish media have revealed that police have been keeping a register of Roma people who are not suspected of any crime. This shows that racism prevails today in Sweden, even in our trusted public institutions.
“It is completely unacceptable that the police are registering people, including children, on the basis of their ethnicity. By doing so, the police have broken several Swedish laws and
international conventions for the protection of human rights,” says John Stauffer, Human rights lawyer at Civil Rights Defenders.
Only a few weeks ago, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) expressed concerns about the racism and discrimination that Roma in Sweden are exposed to and urged the government to take further actions to tackle the situation. The committee stressed the importance of the police and the judicial authorities in investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of racist crimes.
The police have a key role to play in safeguarding human rights in society. When the police, so blatantly violates human rights, it damages public confidence in the authorities and the police’s ability to defend a democratic society based on equality of rights and dignity for all.
According to Civil Rights Defenders, it is important to have an independent investigation that looks into all circumstances surrounding the existence of the database on the Roma community. The organisation welcomes the fact that The Swedish Commission on Security and Integrity Protection has acted so promptly on this issue and has decided to start an investigation of the Skåne police who built the database. The people within the police, directly or indirectly responsible for approving the register, must also be held accountable and brought to justice. Moreover, the persons included in the register and whose rights have been violated, must be granted compensation by the state.
No matter what the conclusions that come out of the investigation are, the Roma register shows that the police as an organisation, not least the police in the Skåne area, have serious problems with racism. Processes that have previously been initiated to tackle racism within the police force have clearly not been sufficient. To deal with the situation and to prevent this from happening again the government and the police need to take all necessary measures.
People who are registered may contact the Commission on Security and Integrity Protection. For those who are unclear about their status in the register they may apply to the commission or to the police to be notified. To claim compensation, please contact the Office of the Chancellor of Justice.
For more information, please contact:
John Stauffer, Human rights lawyer at Civil Rights Defenders, 070-484 96 85
Tags: Discrimination, Human rights, Polisens arbetsmetoder, Rasism, Roma, and Romer.