The forced relocation of a family due to neighborly ethnic assaults violates the right to privacy.
Alković v. Montenegro 5.12.2017 (no. 66895/10)
Ethnic and religious attacks on a Roma-Muslim and his child by their neighbors. Shots, threats and crosses at his door, forced the family to move. Ineffective research. Violation of the right to respect for privacy in conjunction with a breach of the prohibition of discrimination.
The applicant, Rizo Alković, is a Montenegrin national who was born in 1960. He currently lives in Belgium.
The case concerned a series of apparently ethnically and/or religiously motivated attacks against Mr Alković, who is a Roma and a Muslim, by his neighbours in 2009 when he was living in Podgorica (Montenegro). He alleged in particular that, on 26 May 2009, he saw one of his neighbours go to his car, take out a gun and, pointing it in the direction of his apartment’s terrace, fire nine to ten gunshots. In another incident, on 22 September 2009 when Mr Alković was celebrating Ramadan Bayram, a religious holiday, with his family, a large cross was drawn on his apartment door, with a message written on the wall “move out or you’ll bitterly regret it”.
Following the incident in September Mr Alković called the police, who came and took photographs of the cross and the message. At the same time he lodged a complaint with the police against a number of families living in his apartment building. Four neighbours were then interviewed by the police, but they denied Mr Alković’s allegations. As concerned the shooting incident in May, two of the neighbours confirmed that they had heard shots, but said that they did not know who had fired them. They admitted to having picked up the spent cartridges from the ground with their children, but only so that the children could play with them.
The case file was transmitted to the prosecuting authorities who concluded a few months later that only the incident involving the cross could be considered as jeopardising security and asked the police to take steps to find the perpetrator. It was decided that all the other incidents referred to by Mr Alković could not be considered a threat.
The domestic courts subsequently dismissed Mr Alković’s request for an investigation into the incident involving the cross for lack of evidence. They found in particular that Mr Alković had not called the police to come to the scene and collect evidence. Mr Alković objected, submitting that he had not only reported the incident to the police but had also lodged an official complaint. The courts dismissed however his objection, stating that it was not for them to assess police work.
Mr Alković’s constitutional appeal was also subsequently dismissed.
Both before and after the incidents in 2009 Mr Alković and his neighbours had an ongoing conflictual relationship, resulting either in minor offence proceedings or both sides lodging a number of criminal complaints against one another.
Mr Alković and his family moved out of their apartment in July 2010 following another threatening incident involving his daughter.
Relying in particular on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life and the home) taken in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Alković complained about the authorities’ failure to effectively investigate the series of attacks against him by his neighbours.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 8 in conjunction with Article 14
Just satisfaction: 6,000 euros (EUR) for non-pecuniary damage and EUR 5,000 for costs and expenses(echrcaselaw.com editing).