Roma family accepted as refugees

12:34 pm on 3 October 2015

A Slovakian family has been accepted as refugees in New Zealand after sustained attacks by far-right skinheads.

Domestic violence

Photo: 123rf

Their asylum applications were turned down by Immigration New Zealand but they successfully appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

The Roma mother, her three children and a Czech cousin suffered an arson attack on their house, her daughter was sexually assaulted and their dog was killed when its kennel was set alight.

A molotov cocktail, fireworks and stones were thrown at their house, setting furniture and curtains alight.

The mother needed surgery to restore her hearing after being kicked in the head and her brother had his arm amputated.

The tribunal's decision said: "The appellants have all experienced significant discrimination, harassment, bullying and verbal abuse in their everyday lives because of their Roma ethnicity.

"Each of the appellants recounted particular experiences during their childhood, school and adult years.

"They described a perpetual undercurrent of racism that accompanied everything that they did from shopping at the local supermarket, swimming at a public swimming pool, travelling on buses and trains and simply walking down the street."

But the family said that escalated when a bar opened next to them and new neighbours moved in, with police among the bar's customers.

The tribunal's report said: "The skinheads were on the road outside their house and were shouting abuse and threats and rattling the gate.

"Then a Molotov cocktail smashed through one of the windows, setting the curtains and a couch on fire.

"The following night the appellants' dog was killed in the back yard. They did not hear the attack but awoke in the morning to find the kennel and dog had been set alight.

"The smell of petrol was evident.

"The appellants have sought state protection from the Slovakian police previously and have not received an effective response on any occasion."

The tribunal said the family had clearly experienced consistent and targeted violence and should be allowed to remain in New Zealand.

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