Head of state: Rudolf Schuster (elected in May)
Head of government: Mikulas Dzurinda
Population: 5.4 million
Official language: Slovak
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
1999 treaty ratifications/signatures: Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty
There were reports of ill-treatment of Roma at the hands of law enforcement officials. One Rom died after he was shot during interrogation in police custody. A pattern of large-scale police operations which appeared to target entire Romani communities reportedly continued. Conscientious objectors to military service faced prosecution and imprisonment.
Large numbers of Slovak Roma, economically disadvantaged by social exclusion and discrimination and reportedly subject to racially motivated attacks by "skinheads", continued to seek asylum throughout Western Europe and Scandinavia. The authorities responded to international pressure over the treatment of Roma with a September strategy paper detailing a package of measures to improve their situation.
Roma continued to face ill-treatment at the hands of law enforcement officials, but the authorities failed to carry out prompt, impartial and thorough investigations into allegations of ill-treatment.
- Îubomír Šarišský died in August after he was shot in the abdomen during interrogation while in police custody in Poprad.
A pattern of large-scale police operations, which appeared to target entire Romani communities instead of focusing on the arrest of individual criminal suspects, reportedly continued.
- Nearly 100 police, equipped with guns and dogs, arrived in the Romani settlement of Ûehra at 6am on 2 December and ordered hundreds of people to stand outside their apartments under guard. Some police officers allegedly shouted racist abuse. They entered some apartments, reportedly damaging doors, windows and contents. They allegedly forced male occupants who were left inside to lie on the floor and beat them. A 14-year-old boy was injured by a rubber bullet and several Roma were refused treatment for their injuries by local doctors; this prompted allegations that doctors had been instructed by the police.
Milan Kobolka, a conscientious objector to military service, faced a possible maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment. The authorities continued to deny him the opportunity to perform alternative civilian service, justifying their refusal on the grounds that the 1995 Law on Civilian Service only permits such applications within 30 days of call-up. In a letter to the authorities in December, AI expressed concern about the intended prosecution of Milan Kobolka. It stressed that their actions contravened internationally recognized principles on conscientious objection and called for a judicial review.
AI country report
- Slovak Republic: Reported ill-treatment of Roma by police officers (AI Index: EUR 72/001/99)
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