What happened: On 24.09.2020, a video was posted on social media clearly showing police officers in Bitola assaulting members of the Roma community. The incident occurred on 22.09.2020, when three Roma individuals had a traffic accident with their vehicle, hitting a concrete wall. The traffic police was patrolling near the accident, and without any reason the police officers ordered the individuals out of the vehicle and started to brutally beat them without asking them if they required medical care. The individuals were detained in the police station until 5:00 a.m., where they were insulted and harassed with different offensive expressions related to their ethnicity, language and skin colour. The individuals wanted to report the case to the Internal Control, Criminal Investigation and Professional Standards Department at the Ministry of Interior, but were denied the opportunity.
Brief description of the incident with bias indicators: In this incident the bias motives are skin colour, the assumed ethnic origin and language, with the bias indicators being:
- Language – the victims and the attackers spoke different languages;
- Skin colour – the victims were assaulted because they had a different skin colour from the perpetrators;
- Ethnic origin – the victims and the perpetrators belonged to a different ethnic community;
- Location – Bitola is a municipality populated by diverse ethnicities and similar incidents have been previously registered, particularly when the victims were Roma.
Impact on the victims and the community: These types of incidents call into question the general safety in the country and cohabitation among the different ethnic and linguistic groups in society and significantly diminish citizens’ trust in the police.