Natrag Commissioner calls for effective investigations into cases of police violence in Belgrade

Strasbourg 08/07/2020
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“The violent dispersal of demonstrators by the Serbian police in Belgrade yesterday raises serious human rights concerns”, said today the Commissioner. “Police violence or disproportionate use of force must never be tolerated, even when operations aimed at maintaining public order during demonstrations are particularly complex and law enforcement officers are performing their duties in highly tense contexts. This is a well-established principle, made explicit also by the 2019 Guidelines on freedom of peaceful assembly published by the Council of Europe Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR.

The Serbian authorities have an obligation to carry out effective investigations to establish responsibility and punish the officers responsible, in line with the relevant case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Guidelines on Eradicating Impunity for Serious Human Rights Violations adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in 2011. They must also ensure that persons claiming to be victims of police misconduct can file a complaint to obtain redress. Showing zero tolerance towards law enforcement officers who breach professional ethics or criminal law is crucial to prevent impunity and to strengthen public trust in the police and its work to protect citizens.”