Ukraine: A year after attack on Roma camp in Kyiv, no justice for victims

The Ukrainian authorities must provide justice to victims of the 21 April 2018 attack on a Roma camp in Kyiv’s Lysa Hora park by members of a far-right group that advocates hatred and discrimination, Amnesty International said ahead of the first anniversary of the attack.

“We heard strong condemnatory statements from senior officials and they committed to provide justice to the victims, but where are we a year on? What the Ukrainian authorities have done over the past 12 months falls far short of an effective investigation, and they have done little to help the victims of this brazen hate crime,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty International Ukraine’s Director.

What the Ukrainian authorities have done over the past 12 months falls far short of an effective investigation, and they have done little to help the victims of this brazen hate crime
Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty International Ukraine's Director

After the attack, the perpetrators spoke openly about their actions and boasted about them online. One of them, a member of a group which advocates discrimination and violence, publicly claimed responsibility for the actions on his Facebook page. He was arrested in July 2018 but later released in October 2018 after a court decision which determined procedural violations by police. The prosecution has since appealed this decision, but relevant court hearings have been postponed six times.

The authorities have failed to identify any further perpetrators and bring them to justice.

“Attacks against Roma are becoming increasingly vicious in Ukraine, resulting in at least two deaths in the past year. Even where perpetrators of these crimes have been identified and remanded in custody, justice has not yet been done. Those responsible must be brought to justice in fair trial proceedings that ensure the discriminatory motive is central to the prosecution –  contrary to common practice in Ukraine which fails to do so – and the victims of the attack must be compensated.”

Attacks against Roma are becoming increasingly vicious in Ukraine, resulting in at least two deaths in the past year
Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty International Ukraine's Director

Background

During the night of 21 April 2018, members of the far-right group C14 known for advocating hatred and discrimination, attacked a Roma camp in Lysa Hora park in Kyiv.  Armed with knives and hammers, they burned down tents in the camp and chased out men, women and children residents. C14 boasted about the attack on their Facebook page and one of its leaders warned there could be further attacks.

On 23 June, masked men armed with knives and other weapons raided a Roma camp in Lviv, in western Ukraine, leaving one man dead and four injured, including a 10 year-old boy.

On 1 July, unidentified assailants stabbed and killed a 30 year-old Roma woman in Berehove, Zakarpattya region, in western Ukraine.

Amnesty International has documented a steady rise in hate crimes in Ukraine over the last two years. While the Ukrainian authorities have addressed the problem on some occasions, in particular by providing effective protection to the last three Pride marches in Kyiv and to 8 March 2019 women’s rights street events across Ukraine, their response has not been consistent. The perpetrators of numerous attacks, including those against Roma, LGBTI and women’s rights activists, and others targeted by groups advocating hatred and discrimination, have enjoyed near-total impunity.