Lingurar v. Romania (Application No. 48474/14)

A selection of key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.

  1. As for the allegations of discrimination, the Court must establish whether or not racial prejudice was a causal factor behind the police intervention (see, mutatis mutandis, Ciorcan, cited above, § 160).
  2. In this connection, the Court notes that in the police intervention plan, drafted prior to the police raid of 15 December 2011, the authorities identified the ethnic composition of the targeted community and referred to the alleged anti-social behaviour of ethnic Roma and the alleged high criminality among Roma (see paragraph 13 above). The same assertions were made by the investigators, who explained the applicants’ alleged aggressiveness by their ethnic traits or by habits “specific to Roma” (see paragraph 37 above). The prosecutor also considered that the police raid had been rendered necessary by the problems experienced with the Roma community and their criminal behaviour (see paragraph 39 above). The Court observes that the authorities extended to the whole community the criminal behaviour of a few of their members on the sole ground of their common ethnic origin (see paragraph 40 above).
  3. Turning to the facts of the current case, the Court considers that the manner in which the authorities justified and executed the police raid shows that the police had exercised their powers in a discriminatory manner, expecting the applicants to be criminals because of their ethnic origin. The applicants’ own behaviour was extrapolated from a stereotypical perception that the authorities had of the Roma community as a whole. The Court considers that the applicants were targeted because they were Roma and because the authorities perceived the Roma community as anti-social and criminal. This conclusion, also supported by the general reports of racial stereotyping of Roma presented by the third party (see paragraph 63 above), goes beyond a simple expression of concern about ethnic discrimination in Romania (see paragraph 61 above and, conversely, Ciorcan, cited above, § 160). It shows concretely that the decisions to organise the police raid and to use force against the applicants were made on considerations based on the applicants’ ethnic origin. The authorities automatically connected ethnicity to criminal behaviour, thus their ethnic profiling of the applicants was discriminatory.
  4. In the Court’s view, in situations where there is evidence of patterns of violence and intolerance against an ethnic minority, the positive obligations incumbent on member States require a higher standard of response to alleged bias-motivated incidents (see the case-law quoted in paragraph 68 above). The Court is mindful of the evidence produced by the parties and the available material which show that, in the respondent State, the Roma communities are often confronted with institutionalised racism and are prone to excessive use of force by the law-enforcement authorities (see the references in paragraph 47 above). In this context, the mere fact that in the present case stereotypes about “Roma behaviour” feature in the authorities’ assessment of the situation (see paragraph 37 and 40 above), may give rise to suspicions of discrimination based on ethnic grounds. Such suspicions, coupled with the modalities of the intervention of 15 December 2011, should have prompted the authorities to take all possible steps to investigate whether or not discrimination may have played a role in the events. However, the applicants’ allegations of discrimination against and criminalization of the Roma community have been dismissed by the domestic authorities and courts without any in-depth analysis of all the relevant circumstances of the case (see paragraphs 30 and 45 above).