Swedish Attorney Generals’ Verdict on Damages Awarded to Roma Lacks a Human Rights Perspective

The Attorney General recently ruled that the Roma who were illegally registered by the Skåne Police should receive 5,000 SEK in damages from the state as a result. The Attorney Generals’ decision is based almost exclusively on the Swedish Commission on Security and Integrity Protections conclusions regarding the legality of the registers but certain flaws have clearly been highlighted.

The Attorney General does not appear to have analysed the fact that the data stored concerning the Roma in the registry is in fact part of the exclusion and discrimination that the Roma have been subjected to for decades. Nor does it highlight the most evident fact that a registration based on ethnic lines is in fact contrary to human rights, namely the European Convention on Human Rights, which Sweden is a signatory to.  Further concerns coming from the office of the Attorney General relates to the fact that the registry clearly indicates that the police appeared to apply ethnic profiling to some degree in their work.

Civil Rights Defenders believes that the seriousness of the violations against the registered individuals can only be understood from a historical perspective. The Attorney Generals’ assertion that the illegal registry has not had any real negative consequences for those affected, suggests a certain cluelessness, which is insulting to those affected.

If the Attorney General had understood the extent and depth of the damage that historical discrimination raises, she would also have understood the context in which the Roma registers should be seen in.

The Attorney General could therefore have been able to formulate a much stronger conclusion, and a decision that was grounded in human rights. If she had fully  understood the historical perspective of Roma discrimination  then she could have also awarded far higher compensation levels. Such an offer would have gone a long way in recognising the human rights violations that the Roma have suffered.