Roma rights groups call for investigation into two fatal shootings by Romanian police

Roma rights groups are calling on the authorities to investigate two deaths involving Romania’s police force. Two separate incidents are reported.  In the first, on May 31 this year, police in Bucharest pursued two Romani men suspected of stealing construction materials. Police officers caught up to the suspects when they waded a little way out into Plumbuita Lake and it was at this point that one of the men, a 24 year old, was shot and killed by the officers. Police first fired warning shots into the air, then shot one suspect in the head, fatally wounding in him. The second suspect surrendered to the officers.

A second, more recent killing, involved the the shooting of two brothers, one fatally. On June 10 in Agrişteu, Mures county, police were called to an apparent conflict between a Roma family and a Hungarian family. Officers arrived and, using tear gas, ended the confrontation. Later a group of police officers returned to the Roma neighborhood, seemingly to look for someone involved.

It is claimed they then spotted two locals outside a house, unconnected with the earlier incident, said “There he is, let’s get him,” forced entry into the family’s yard and proceeded to beat the family members they found there. The Romani family fought back, and it was at this point the police shot the two brothers. One was wounded in the leg and the back. A second brother, seeing one shot and wounded, attacked the officers with an undisclosed object and was then shot in the back when trying to flee, according to the Romani rights groups calling for an investigation. The 18 year old’s wound proved fatal.

The European Roma Rights Council ( ERRC) and Romania’s Roma rights group, Romani CRISS, are cosignatories of two letters sent to the police forces involved and Romania’s Interior Minister Ioan Rus. They are calling for a full investigation into both deaths.

“Under international law, any use of lethal force by police officers must be justified and proportionate,” reads a joint statement by the two groups. They are calling for any findings to be made public and question whether the use of lethal force contravened Romanian law in these cases.

Liam Lever,