Crime rate among Roma lower than the national average
According to a monitoring report on observance of the rights of Roma people in the work of the police, the crime level in Roma communities is considerably lower than the average for Ukraine. The results were reported during a press conference at the Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner’s Secretariat by Oleh Martynenko, a specialist on law enforcement bodies. The research was carried out by specialists and members of NGOs with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation.
Martynenko pointed out that the average citizens have long had a stereotypical view of Roma as an asocial group. He suggests however looking at the facts and at state statistics. A comparison of the number of crimes committed by Roma and on average in Ukraine was carried out in the Transcarpathian, Odessa, Poltava and Cherkasy oblasts where there are large Roma communities. This found that the crime rate among the Roma was 2.5 times lower than the general level in the country.
As part of the study the texts of court rulings were analyzed to see whether ethnic origin of the defendants was noted, as well as statistics.
In the material of criminal cases of the Single State Register of Court Rulings working since 2006, the word “gypsy” was used in 1066 verdicts. “Gypsy” or “Roma” was indicated five times more often than the word “Ukrainian”. There was no objective reason for mention of nationality.
There was also a survey which found that 51% of Roma respondents had received police visits to their home; 35% had faced unwarranted searches; and 66% had been stopped by police in public places to check documents.
Maria Kolokolova from the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research says that the Roma have no trust in the police and are even afraid of them since they feel that the police have a stereotyped attitude to them. The police in their turn stigmatize Roma, assuming that they need to be watched more closely than the public as a whole. This leads to unlawful searches, inspections of homes and cars; to people being stopped to have their documents checked on the street; detained to be photographed and have their fingerprints taken.
According to the Director of the IRF Roma of Ukraine Programme , Olha Zhmurko, the results of the monitoring are of importance both in terms of defending Roma rights; and at a broader lever in defending human rights and preventing discrimination on ethnic grounds.
The Programme’s objective is to facilitate integration of Roma into Ukrainian society by improving the level of education; access to medical services; rights protection; as well as to develop leadership and capacity of Roma young people.