HFHR takes action in response to police conduct in Głogów
♦ According to a video released to the media, a police officer arresting a protester appears to have used force disproportionate to the behaviour of the person detained.
♦ In a letter sent to the head of a provincial Police department, the HFHR noted that only the necessary and least oppressive measures of direct coercion should be taken against persons being taken into police custody.
According to the recording published in the media, about 100 people participated in a demonstration that took place in Głogów on 11 April 2021. They were protesting against government-imposed pandemic restrictions. A recording of the arrest of a protester was published in the media. The video depicts a police officer hitting a person leaving the scene with a baton, then grabbing them by the neck, knocking them to the ground and twisting their arm.
Responding to the situation, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has asked the head of the provincial Police department in Wrocław to comment on the incident shown in the video.
In its letter, the Foundation stressed that any use of direct coercive measures – such as physical force or a baton – must be necessary to achieve the purpose of such use, proportionate to the degree of threat and must cause the least possible harm. Any use of the measures in violation of these rules will not be lawful.
Moreover, a disproportionate application of direct coercive measures may constitute a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for the prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The prohibition under Article 3 is absolute and does not allow for any exceptions, and its applicability may not be affected by the conduct of the person concerned.
Article 3 ECHR not only prohibits actions violating the prohibition of maltreatment, but also obliges the state to take certain procedural measures: the state must thoroughly investigate all cases in which the prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment may have been violated, and, if the perpetrators are determined, to punish them accordingly. A failure to explain any such case may itself constitute a violation of Article 3 ECHR.
The intervention was taken as part of Covid 19 – Criminal Justice Campaign, a project coordinated by Fair Trials International.