“This is upsetting, to say the least,” Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag told the TT news agency. “Registration based on ethnic background is illegal and does not belong in a society based on the rule of law.”
Ullenhag added that the matter must be dealt with immediately.
“We risk that the Roma will lose their faith in Swedish society. Roma people are a group that is discriminated against and has been vulnerable to exclusion for a very, very long time. This makes it especially important that the police get to the bottom of this and that there are legal consequences.”
The registry was exposed on Monday by the Dagens Nyheter (DN), which revealed that 4,000 Roma are listed by local police, in a database that consists of a family tree that includes personal identity numbers (personnummer) and addresses combined with arrows that indicate how people included in the registry are related.
The registry is reportedly kept in a computer file folder labelled “itinerants” (kringresande) within the computer system of police in Skåne in southern Sweden.
Police confirmed that the registry exists on Monday morning, after initially denying it, but added that the registry was not sanctioned by the police. Investigations have been launched to determine whether the list was compiled by a single employee.
Members of the Roma community are outraged by the news.
“This is horrible. It is an illegal kind of treatment that the police are carrying out here,” Fred Taikon, who works for the É Romani Glinda journal, told TT.
“It’s forbidden to make a registry of people based on their ethnicity – and our authorities have done just that. This is an incredible breach of the law. It’s dumbfounding.”
He added that he had “long suspected” that police had such a registry based on reports from others in the Roma community.
Erland Kaldaras, who works for the Roma Culture Association in Malmö (Romska kulturföreningen) said the revelations were hard to swallow.
“My first reaction was that this is extremely unsettling and scary. There are such small children involved in this registry, and it stretches so far back. I have relatives who have already died that are involved on the list,” he told TT.
The centre has now demanded talks with Justice Minister Beatrice Ask.