Romani woman shot dead in Hungary

A Romani woman was shot dead in the village of Kisléta in Eastern Hungary, early Monday morning. The 45-year-old woman’s 13-year-old daughter was also seriously injured in the attack. Initial police reports suggest that the incident is related to a series of attacks targeting Romani communities in Hungary. Amnesty International has voiced concern about the growing number of attacks against the Romani community in Hungary and the failure of the police to investigate effectively. The organization said that it welcomed the decision that the killing and its apparent racial motive will be investigated by the Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation. The agency was established specifically to investigate serious crimes. Between January 2008 and June 2009, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) documented 39 attacks against Roma and their property. Eight people have died in these attacks. 27-year-old Róbert Csorba and his five-year-old son were killed whilst fleeing their house which was set on fire in a suspected arson attack in Tatárszentgyörgy in February. Jenõ Kóka, a 54-year-old Romani man, was shot dead as he left his home to make his way to the nightshift in the local chemical factory where he worked in Tiszalök on 22 April. Last November, a man and woman were shot after their house was petrol bombed in Nagycsécs, a village in north eastern Hungary. The increasing number of attacks against Romani individuals and their homes has created a climate of fear and intimidation. “The Hungarian Government has firmly condemned the attacks against members of the Romani community,” said Nicola Duckworth, Director of the Europe and Central Asia Programme of Amnesty International. “This is a welcome move, but what is most urgently required is an effective police investigation.”   In the Tatárszentgyörgy case, the head of the local criminal department violated the rules of the investigation, according to a report issued by ERRC, the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ). Amnesty International has voiced concern that there might be more cases of attacks that remain unreported and is urging the Hungarian authorities to take positive action to address underlying prejudices against the Romani community. In its 2009 Report on Hungary, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance noted that the “victims of such acts may often be reluctant to report the racist elements of violent offences against the person, whether owing to a sense of shame, due to fear of retribution, or because they feel it is unlikely that serious follow-up will be given to this aspect of a crime.”