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16.02.2023 – Statement on police infiltration in social movements in recent years in Spain
88 organisations declare their support for the five activists bringing legal action over the infiltration of social and labour movements by a police officer from the Spanish National Police Corps in Barcelona. The undercover officer used intimate, sexual relationships, to create and consolidate a bond of trust with those movements. His actions were endorsed and backed up by the rest of the police structure.
16 February 2023, Barcelona
The police officer’s activity was documented from May 2020 to October 2022, thanks to an investigation conducted by the newspaper, La Directa.
On 31 January 2023, five of the activists, human rights defenders and union rights affected by the police operation, started criminal proceeding against the police officer for: systematic sexual abuse, torture and offences against moral integrity, the crime of discovery and disclosure of secrets, and constrainting their civic rights, including a breach of freedom of association. Criminal charges, which have also been filed against the police officer’s superiors, count on the legal support of Irídia – Centre for the Defence of Human Rights and the CGT (General Confederation of Labour Union).
In light of the seriousness of these violations, the organisations and collectives undersigned state that:
- In this case, the police operation reveals clear gender discrimination that serves a dual purpose. Firstly, to obtain information and to manipulate civil society and the organisation of different social movements in Barcelona. Secondly, to punish women involved in such collectives and struggles.
- Using intimate, sexual relationships for the purpose of state espionage stems from sexism in the police and the institutional violence that currently exists in Spain. In this case, sexual violence is institutional violence because the acts were perpetrated by a police officer in the exercise of his duties, which were authorised, endorsed and permitted by the institutional structure to which he belongs.
- Such police operations are unnecessary and unjustifiable in any democracy, and they undermine the rule of law, as they promote the use of tactics aimed at persecuting political dissent; and human rights defenders, as well as reducing the space for civil society and its ability to organise.
- Although we know that state surveillance is currently a reality in Spain (through the use of programmes such as Pegasus and the discovery of two other infiltrated police officer, uncovered by La Directa on 7 June 2022 and 13 February 2023), this case represents a significant escalation because of the extent to which individual and collective rights are affected and the impact it has on the people directly affected and on the movements themselves.
- This is not an isolated case. Although this kind of infiltration should be considered an exceptional resource, subject to very strict and specific conditions, the infiltration of police officers into social and political movements is a practice that has also been used in other countries. Particularly noteworthy is the precedent set in the United Kingdom, where, in 2021, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal concluded that the deployment of Mark Kennedy, an undercover officer who had had relations with several women, one of them lasting more than six years, violated five fundamental human rights: the prohibition on torture and/or inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to a private and family life, freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and the prohibition on discrimination, in this case on grounds of sex.
These events show that all citizens and associations are at risk of becoming victims of these arbitrary and abusive violations. In this way, the use of such operations intimidates and has a chilling effect on citizens, significantly restricting civil society’s political space. As in the UK, this case should generate public debate on the limits and control of policing in a state governed by the rule of law and democracy.
The undersigned organisations note that the Spanish state has crossed a lines in terms of the violation of fundamental rights, exploiting intimate and sexual relationships to monitor political dissident. It is essential to expose, name, and challenge this type of police strategy, integrated into a state policy, as well as the specific gender-based violence it entails, in order to demand truth, justice, reparation and, above all, prevent these events from happening again.
It is important to remember that international law establishes a duty on state to investigate effectively and thoroughly in order to comply with their obligations to the victim and, also, to society, in their obligation to prevent future violations, as take action in the face of the most serious human rights abuses.
UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association noted, in his follow-up mission to the UK in 2017, that such operations can cause profound and irreparable harm, both “to the survivors and to the well-being of the general population with respect to the free of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of given the increased of mistrust” resulting from the public awareness of the case. He noted that in these cases “the harm can only be partially remedied through a process of real and transparent accountability for those affected, as well as reparation.”
In view of the above, the 88 undersigned organisations call on Spain to:
- Take responsibility in the light of the seriousness of the case and respond with consequences for the perpetrators, punishing these offences with appropriate penalties, which take into account the gravity of the offences; and to comply with its duty to produce a public explanation of the facts.
- Fulfil its obligation to conduct a thorough, effective and independent investigation, with the objective of disclosing the extent of the operation, and to take the necessary measures to ensure effective reparations for the affected persons and movements.
- Immediately cease any further police operations of a similar nature and set up the necessary safeguards to ensure that they are not repeated.
Organizations supporting the statement
- Abolish Frontex
- Alianza por la Justicia Global
- Alianza por un mejor Darién – AMEDAR from Panamá
- Alternativa de Reivindicación Comunitaria y Ambientalista de Hounduras (ARCAH)
- Associació Catalana per a la Defensa dels Drets Humans (ACDDH)
- Big Brother Watch
- Bürgerrechte & Polizei / CILIP
- Calala Fondo Mujeres
- Campaign Against Arms Trade
- Campaña Defender la Libertad: Asunto de todxs
- Campaña Popular Palestina contra el Muro de Apartheid – Stop the Wall
- Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau
- Centro de Atención en Derechos Humanos a la Mujer y el Menor Indígena (CADHMMI) from
- Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales CELS
- Centro Regional Indígena en Derechos Humanos “Ñuu-Savi” (CERIDH) from México
- CGT, Confederació General del Trabajo
- Civil Liberties Union for Europe – Liberties (19 members)
- Coalición de la Defensa de la Tierra Palestina Unión Palestina Campesina
- Colectivo Insurrección Visual from México
- Colectivo Reexistencia Creativa from México
- Colombianas y Colombianos por la Paz
- Comisión Multisectorial from Uruguay
- Comité de Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo de Oaxaca (CODEPO) from México
- Comité de Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de la Mujer (CODEM) from México
- Comité de Justicia por Keyla Patricia Martínez from Honduras
- Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (DPDH)
- Comité Universitario de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Palestino (CUSPPA)
- Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos (CSUTCB) from Bolivia
- Corriente Revolucionaria Bolívar y Zamora – CRBZ from Venezuela
- Defender a Quien Defiende (9 members)
- Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Huminanitario from Colombia
- Digital Freedom Fund
- Digitalcourage from Germany
- End Deportations Belfast
- EuroMed Rights (60 members)
- European Civic Forum (49 members)
- European Group For Studying Deviance and Social Control
- FACQ Berlin
- Fair Trials
- Federación de Mujeres del CUSCO – Micaela Bastidas Puiucagua from Perú
- Frente de Organizaciones Sociales de Chiapas (OPEZ – FOSICH)
- Frente de Pueblos en Defensa del Mejoramiento Barrial de la Ciudad de México – Centro
Cultural Las Jarillas45. Front Line Defenders
- Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos (CSPP) from Colombia
- Granada Visible
- Grupo FIST Mujeres Migrantes Internacionalistas Solidarias en Zurich
- Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya (IDHC)
- Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz (INDEPAZ)
- Instituto Mexicano de Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC) from México
- Instituto Mexicano de Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC) from México
- Irídia – Centre per la Defensa dels Drets Humans
- LaFede.cat – Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global (124 members)
- Movimiento Alfa y Omega from Perú
- Movimiento Cultural Campesino Los Arangues from Venezuela
- Movimiento de Favelas de Rio Janeiro
- Movimiento Internacional de la Economía de los Trabajadores from Venezuela
- Novact – Institut Internacional per l’Acció Noviolenta
- Observatori DESC
- Observatorio de Derechos Humanos Capítulo EU
- Observatorio de Derechos Humanos Capítulo Suiza
- Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos (DHP)
- Observatorio de la violencia policial from Chile
- Observatorio de Paz de Colombia
- Observatorio para el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas from Chile
- ObsPol Observatoire des violences policières
- OMCT – Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (200 members)
- Patronato Pro Defensa y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural y Natural de Oaxaca (PRO –
- Police Spies Out of Lives
- Programa Compañeros de A.C. de Ciudad Juáles Chihuahua México
- Radio Lora Zurich
- Red de Colectivas La Araña Feminista from Venezuela
- Red de Integración Orgánica – Rio – Por la Defensa de la Madre Tierra y los Derechos Humanos de Guatemala
- Red Global contra la Violencia Policial (20 members)
- Red por la Defensa de la Infacia Mapuche
- SOA Watch – Observatorio por el Cierre de las Escuelas de las Américas
- Soldepaz – Pachakuti
- Stop Represión Granada
- Stop Wapenhandel (Dutch campaign against arms trade)
- Sur Occidente Colombiano Antonieta Mércury de Colombia
- The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance
- The Network for Police Monitoring
- The Undercover Research Group
- Transnational Institute, The Netherlands
- Unión de Organizaciones Sociales Interculturales del Sur de Pichincha (UOSISP) from Ecuador
[Download the Statement]
03.02.2023 – Family’s plea over Belgian-Tunisian woman found dead in police cell
Sourour Abouda is the third person of North African descent to die in unexplained circumstances in Rue Royale.
The family of a Belgian-Tunisian woman found dead in a Brussels police cell deny the official line that she died by suicide and have asked the Tunisian government to conduct its own investigation, openDemocracy has discovered.
Two other people of North African descent died in the same police station in 2021, when the UN expressed concerns about “police-related racial violence” in Belgium.
On 11 January, Sourour Abouda went for lunch and drinks with colleagues at a Portuguese restaurant in Brussels to celebrate the new year. At 8:34am the following day, the 46-year-old social worker and mother was found dead in a police cell.
“We talked a little, we laughed a little, and then I didn’t see her again,” said Fabrice Gérard, who knew Sourour and saw her at another café the same night. Gérard is also a journalist reporting on the story for RTBF, Belgium’s French-language public radio and TV service.
According to Gérard, the police told Sourour’s family that she died by suicide, using her sweatshirt to strangle herself, but the family refutes this.
“Her family said she never made any suicidal indications in the past. She would have never left her son alone,” the family’s lawyer Selma Benkhelifa told openDemocracy. “Suddenly, in a police [cell], she decides to kill herself without any apparent reason? It’s very strange.”
The public prosecutor’s office also claimed that “the death could correspond to a suicide”. “Based on the initial findings and the provisional autopsy report, it would seem that there was no third-party intervention,” a spokesperson said on 16 January.
A judicial investigation into Sourour’s death by Belgium’s police watchdog, known as Committee P, is currently underway.
Benkhelifa and the family have not seen a police report, CCTV footage from the night Sourour was arrested, surveillance footage of her cell, or a post-mortem report.
Sourour’s sister Soumaya told openDemocracy that the family was busy arranging a burial for Sourour in Tunisia and also trying to set up a “counter investigation” there, because “the Belgian state isn’t helping us”. They are currently waiting for the results of a second post-mortem.
Sourour is the third person of North African descent in two years to be found dead in a prison cell at the same Brussels-Capital-Ixelles police station, which is located on Rue Royale in City of Brussels municipality.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we see deaths occur in a cell in this police station, which implies that serious things have happened,” wrote Allan, Sourour’s 19-year-old son, in an Instagram post four days after his mother’s death.
A spokesperson from the Tunisian embassy in Brussels told openDemocracy last week: “The embassy is in continuous contact with the family of the deceased and the Belgian authorities (federal and regional) to find out the exact circumstances of the death of the Tunisian national Sourour Abouda, as soon as possible.”
The police arrested Sourour at about 6am on 12 January in the chic district of Châtelain in Ixelles, a suburb south-east of Brussels, for public intoxication and disturbing public order, according to Gérard’s reporting. She was handcuffed and placed into a cellule de dégrisement, or sobering-up cell, at the Rue Royale police station.
Belgian law says that an intoxicated person causing public disorder, or appearing as a threat to themselves or others, can be detained for up to 12 hours in order to ‘sober up’. They must also receive medical attention, if needed. Police cells are designed to make injury, self-harm and suicide difficult, but the police are expected to continuously video-monitor the detainee.
“But [Sourour] didn’t see a doctor,” said Benkhelifa. “Why did the police officers whose duty it was to take care of her not watch the cameras? The station was supposed to protect her from herself.”
The mayor of Ixelles told local media he had read Sourour’s police report. It said she was arrested in a car after the vehicle’s owner had called the police because Sourour, who was drunk and incoherent, had refused to get out of the car, according to the mayor. She was then taken to the police station to sober up.
As soon as the police report becomes publicly available, Benkhelifa plans to file a civil lawsuit against the police for failing to protect Sourour while she was in their custody.
‘Persistent racial profiling’
In 2021, two Algerian men in their 20s died in unexplained circumstances in the same Brussels police station as Sourour.
Ilyes Abbeddou, 29, was found dead in his cell in January, the afternoon after his arrest. Mohamed Amine Berkane, 26, was found dead in December, nine hours after his arrest. Amine’s friend, who was detained at the same time, said: “In the police station, the police know where the cameras are; they hit us when they know they won’t be filmed.”
There are still no answers as to how Ilyes and Amine died. Committee P is handling both of these ongoing judicial investigations. In both cases, the prosecutor’s office has ruled out the intervention of a third party (as it has in Sourour’s case).
But a spokesperson for the Observatory of Police Violence in Belgium (ObsPol) told openDemocracy: “The fact that three deaths occurred in the same police station cannot be considered an ‘accident’… Especially since in these three cases, they were people of North African origin.”
ObsPol, which regularly receives testimonies from victims of police violence, said it hoped the investigation into Sourour’s death would be “honest”, adding: “We believe it is not only the person who committed the acts that should be sanctioned, but also the system that allows him to do so and that often keeps silent.”
Belgian activists have long pointed out that ethnic profiling by the police is almost normalised, while the 2021 report on Belgium by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) expressed concern over “police-related racial violence” and “persistent racial profiling”.
CERD recommended that the country “take measures to ensure prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into all allegations of racist incidents caused by or involving the police”, and also that it should diversify its police force.
The public prosecutor’s office in Charleroi, south of Brussels, has just announced that police officers will not be put on trial for the death in 2018 of a Slovakian national, Jozef Chovanec, after he sustained injuries in police custody.
Images leaked in 2020 showed police officers laughing as one female officer made a Nazi salute, while another sat on Jozef’s rib cage for 16 minutes. A 2021 report said he had died of self-inflicted wounds.
Parallel with George Floyd
Selma Benkhelifa, the Sourour family’s lawyer, believes there are parallels between Abouda’s death and the murder of George Floyd by white US police in Minneapolis in 2020.
An official post-mortem found that George, who was the same age as Sourour, had suffered a cardiac arrest while being restrained by police. But a second independent autopsy, requested by the family, revealed that he died from asphyxia – and that there were no underlying health issues that contributed to his death.
Both examinations, though, concluded that his death was homicide.
“We see that [state] pathologists and police work a lot with each other. They know each other,” she said. “It makes it difficult to know the truth.” She added that if, by contrast, the Tunisian government were to lead an investigation, “they would have no reason to lie”.
Benkhelifa – who is a member of the Progress Lawyers Network, which fights racial discrimination in the justice system – told openDemocracy that she had wanted to be a lawyer since she was a teenager to address this problem.
“If there are no sanctions, the message you give is that [the police] are free to do what they want – and that makes me very afraid,” she said.
On a rainy Sunday evening, three days after Sourour’s death, a candlelit vigil was held on the steps of the police station where she died. More than 300 people came to place candles, photos and memories of Sourour on the memorial, said the journalist Fabrice Gérard.
It was “strong and symbolic,” he told openDemocracy. “It was a moment of recollection, so it remained calm.”
Gérard, who has been reporting on police and justice in Belgium for 12 years, is in regular contact with Sourour’s family. “As long as there are no answers, it feeds into their feeling that the police are hiding something,” he said.
The vigil was organised by Sourour’s workplace, the socialist education organisation PAC. PAC has also set up an online donations page to support her son Allan, who she was “raising by herself”, and to cover funeral expenses. So far, it has raised more than €14,000 (£12,500).
Committee P and the Rue Royale police station have not responded to openDemocracy’s requests for comment.
In Ecuador, at least 44 people were killed during a prison riot near the capital Quito Monday. Over 100 others escaped after violence broke out. Relatives gathered outside the prison waiting for news of their loved ones. Human rights groups have denounced the horrid conditions of Ecuadorian prisons, which are dangerously overcrowded and rarely provide programs that help people rehabilitate. Hundreds have been killed in at least five separate prison riots in Ecuador since February of last year.
[Source: Democracy Now!]
We condemn police brutality.
The law must bring these perpetrators to justice ⚖️ pic.twitter.com/8guq2Ibpb4
— Refugees In Libya (@RefugeesinLibya) November 9, 2021
09.11.2021 – Video footage emerges showing distressing police violence on migrants in Lybia
Refugees In Libya posted a horrific video footage on Tweeter : police officers can be seen brutally assaulting people, throwing down a black man from his wheelchair, taking it away from him while one of the wheel went off the chair.
The policemen wrestled the disabled man to the ground, then try to twist his arms to turn him and lay him on his belly. In the background, another person can be seen face down on the ground with several policemen on his back and knee.
The day before, Refugee In Libya issued a press release :
“[…] In recent years refugees have seen and complained against the trajectory of Syrian refugees indulged and pampered by the UNHCR staff. Syrian Nationals or Arabs precisely do not take or wait in line when they come to the UNHCR office both at the door and in the sitting rooms. They are usually allowed to enter, and no security guards prevents them or stops them, UNHCR staffs & its security guards never told them stand in a line with the African refugees, we have been witnessing these racism since 2017 until now and it’s unnumbered how many times we have complained and reported these but went unanswered by the commission.These are the main reasons refugees are losing trust in the UNHCRLIBYA and the socalled humanitarian organizations or human rights organizations in Libya.
Discrimination and racism is very clear and plainly visible used in the offices, because of they’re ethnicity.
There is a secret door at the UNHCR headquarter in the registration main center and only Syrians are allowed to enter, so today refugees of African nationalities tried to enter this door, which is the secret door designated for Syrian nationality by UNHCR staff, so the security guards prevented them, and then this led to violence and the stabbing of a refugees by a security guard. We (Refugees) feels that the step taken by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is against humanity and human rights, and this is racism and discrimination between refugees and asylum seekers according to their colors, geography or religions. This must stop in all public institutions of the international organizations and the human rights organizations, because there’s no place for discrimination and segregation anymore in this era or in the 21st century, let us all stand against the attempting of reusing of RACISM. […] “
[Source: Refugees In Libya on Twitter]
20.10.2021 – Whistleblower leaks horrifying videos showing rape and torture inside a Russian prison
Sergei Savelyev, a 31-year-old Belarusian IT specialist gained access to footage stored in the prison’s computers that were shot in several prisons in the Irkutsk, Vladimir and Saratov regions between 2018-2020.
Sergei was a former inmate at the Saratov prison (he served 7,5 years for “drug trafficking“) who got a job as an IT maintenance officer, granting him access to the prison’s internal server and those of other jails, where he found several videos. Released in February, he saved them on USB sticks that he hid near the prison exit.
Serguei said he suffered abuse at a prison in Krasnodar to force him to “cooperate” — beaten “around once a week but not so hard as to leave too visible bruising.”
He fled the country on a long, tortuous and perilous journey, fearing kidnapping or even death. He said he had no choice but to speak up. “Psychologically, it’s very difficult to keep things like this to yourself. What else can you do once you know?” told AFP on on October 16 at Charles de Gaulle airport in France, where he intends to request asylum.
He then leaked the footage in March to Gulagu.net, an NGO tracking abuses in Russia’s prison system. Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the Gulagu.net rights group, who left Russia in 2015 and currently resides in France, explained he received “over 40 gigabytes of files showing widespread torture“. [Watch his video, in Russian]
Thousands of videos show, among other nightmares:
- inmates being tortured at a prison hospital in the Volga city of Saratov,
- prisoners being beaten and tortured at the prison hospital in Saratov and at prisons in the Belgorod and Kamchatka regions,
- several people using a broom stick to rape a naked man who is tied to a bed at the Saratov prison,
- prisoners urinating on other inmates
- graphic images of rape.
According to Serguei, the abuse was often doled out by fellow inmates, eager to please officers in the jail, typically to force inmates to confess or snitch on other prisoners. In some cases the abuse is filmed so the victim can then be blackmailed into cooperating with his handlers. Or it is used to blackmail inmates — if word of the assault becomes widely known, the victim slides down the rankings of the prison pecking order, reduced to a “petukh,” or rooster, a derogatory term in Russia.
Gulagu.net has also sent the videos to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). The website was blocked by Russia’s state media watchdog Roskomnadzor in July following requests from the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN).
Russian prosecutors said on October 5 that they had launched a preliminary investigation into the videos already released by Osechkin’s Gulagu.net, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov promised a “serious” probe if the incidents depicted in the clips turn out to be genuine. A day later, on October 6, the FSIN said it had fired five senior prison officials, including the director of the prison where the alleged abuse took place and the head of the regional prison service.
NGOs in Russia and worldwide have long alerted international institutions and the public about “systematic” torture in Russian prisons, and argue that conditions are little changed from the Soviet era. E.g., the following video from The Guardian dates back to 2012 :
[Sources: Gulagu.net, The Moscow Times, The Moscow Times with AFP, Zona Media, Zona Media, YouTube, Gulagu.net, Radikal, Radikal, Radio Free Europe, The Guardian]
11.10.2021 – Support the Abolish Frontex network : sign the open letter to !
The Abolish Frontex has written an open letter to the Italian government in solidarity with Mimmo Lucano, the mayor who was recently convicted to 13 years in prison for his support for people on the move.
Although this case does not involve physical police brutality, ObsPol signed the following open letter to protest again this vicious form of repression upon a major figure of the resistance to the terrible suffering inflicted on migrants.
[Sign the open letter – also available in AR, FR, GE, IT and NL]
[Sources: Jacobin, Anticapitalist Resistance, Abolish Frontex, The Guardian, Wikipedia]
05.08.2021 – Riots follow deadly evacuation of land occupation
On Monday Security forces removed peasants from their illegal occupation of the firma El Retiro, in the Cauca region. One of the peasants, Huber Samir Camayo Fajardo, who was on the sidelines of the social protest, was shot dead by the police: he was only passing through the area when he was hit by a shot fired at a distance of 60 meters. He was transferred to the University Hospital of Popayán city, where he died after surgery. A riot then broke out near the police station.
On Wednesday, the police station was again targeted, prompting intervention of the anti-riot forces (ESMAD). Hooded protestors then moved to the offices of the Mayor of Cajibío and set them on fire.
Huber‘s death follows growing reports of police, judicial and paramilitary advances against young people participating in the National Strike protests, issued by several human rights organizations.
[Sources: teleSUR, Radio Super Popayan, Anti-K, Secours Rouge]
11.03.2021 – Video montage showing Police violence in Germany
In Germany as well cops can get violent, as shown on this video montage, pointing in particular violence against young people and people of color.
We can see the same techniques in use, like kneeling on the victim’s neck, same way of shielding the scene, same passivity from colleagues, same kind of agressions on minors (15)…
[Source: Handbook Germany Deutsch sur YouTube]
20.10.2020 – At Least 15 People Killed as Nigerian Protests Against Police Violence Continue
In Nigeria, protests against police brutality show no signs of slowing down, even after police disbanded the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, earlier this month. Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Lagos in recent days, bringing traffic in the bustling city to a standstill. An estimated 15 or more people have been killed, and dozens more injured, since the demonstrations started. Protesters also say they doubt SARS officers will be held accountable for their abuses or that excessive force by police will be curtailed despite recent reforms.
[Source : Democracy Now!, News AKMI]
02.10.2020 – Police officer in Chile accused of throwing teen from bridge
In Chile, a now-viral video shows a police officer in Santiago chasing a 16-year-old boy during an anti-government protest, whom the officer then grabs and throws over the railing of a bridge into a river channel. The boy is seen floating face down, motionless in the dirty shallow water. He is reportedly at a hospital in stable condition. Chileans are preparing to vote on a referendum that could replace the country’s Pinochet-era constitution. Over 8,500 human rights violations have been attributed to Chilean police since the start of protests over inequality and privatization started a year ago.
[Sources : Democracy Now!, New York Post, Al-Jazeera]
17.09.2020 – In Germany, 12 000 cases of illegal police violence each year
According to an yet-unpublished study, illegal police violence acts in Germany may be a lot more frequent than previously thought. This is the conclusion of a research led at Bochum University, by criminologist professor Tobias Singelnstein : at least 12.000 presumably illegal aggressions by police officers per year, 5 times more than actually registered cases.
This projection is based on the most extensive study on police violence in Germany to date. Over 1000 people participated in this study.
“Based on our results so far, we suspect the dark zone might be 5 times larger than the clear zone revealed by statistics“, said Prof. Singelnstein to Kontrast and Der Spiegel reporters.
So far at least 2000 cases per year of presumed police agressions were processed by State or Federal Prosecutors. Theses cases are seldom brought before penal Courts: less than 2% are tried before the courts, and less than 1% result in a criminal sentence, according to Prof. Singelnstein. Most often, this a case of the word of citizens vs. the word of police officers.
Prof. Singelnstein points out that the main reason of such a low rate of investigation is due to public prosecutors trying to avoid putting at risk their relatioship with the police. Moreover, Prosecutors tend to consider accusations of physical harm as generally unjustified, hence the low rate of registered complaints.
[Sources : Kontraste, Der Spiegel]
17.09.2020 – Unknown pro-Loukachenko masked men film protesters, while other para-military beat an kidnap them
In this video compiling various footage of police and para-military brutality, new actors seem to have appeared in the Belarus streets to help police forces with the ferocious repression of anti-government protesters:
- in Minsk, masked men equipped with video cameras and radios came to film protesters, declining to identify themselves
- as protesters engage with them asking why they are filming and who they are, para-military dressed in fatigue with their face covered come to the rescue of the men in blue with batons… Those appeared in the country a week ago, they lead the repression of protests, beating them up and kidnapping them in unidentified cars, taking them to unknown places…
- masked men in civilians clothes are also active in the streets alongside regular police forces and the special unit against organized crime…
[Sources : Arte TV, Nexta, social networks]
09.09.2020 – Police killing of an unarmed lawyer repeatedly tasered for ‘not social distancing’ sparks riots that leave at least seven dead
Javier Humberto Ordonez, a 46-year-old lawyer and father of two was allegedly violating coronavirus social distancing rules (Colombia had a six-month coronavirus pandemic lockdown that began in late March, with the harsh restrictions eased two weeks ago) when he became involved in an altercation with police in the early hours of Wednesday Sept. 9 morning.
In a video posted on social media by friends who were with him, Javier Ordonez can be heard shouting, “Please, no more, I’m suffocating” as two police officers continued to restrain him with their knees on his back and repeatedly tasing him. Javier Ordonez was taken into police custody early on Wednesday where family members have alleged he faced more police abuse. He died in hospital soon after.
Bogota’s Mayor Claudia Lopez called the police brutality “unacceptable“, but also condemned the violence in Bogota that resulted in deaths. Colombia’s defence minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, said rioting had killed seven people in Bogota with more than 150 civilians and police injured across Colombia. Protesters took to the streets on Wednesday night not only in Bogota, but also in the cities of Medellin, Pereida and Ibague, attacking police stations and public transport infrastructure.
The government announced the two officers involved have been suspended pending an investigation, and an autopsy on Javier Ordonez would be carried out.
[Sources : Twitter, BBC, Caracol TV, Colombiamegusta, Liberation News, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Sun, RT]
28.08.2020 – Tanya Day’s family ‘devastated’ that no police will face charges for death in custody
Police officers involved in the death in custody of the Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day will not face any criminal charges.
The Victorian coroner Caitlin English referred the case to the director of public prosecutions in April, saying in her lengthy inquest findings: “I believe an indictable offence may have been committed in connection to Ms Day’s death.”
Victoria police said they had received advice from the office of public prosecutions not to proceed with charges against any officers involved in Day’s death, which the inquest found was caused by a fall in the cells of Castlemaine police station in December 2017. […]
Day died in hospital on 22 December 2017 from a brain haemorrhage sustained when she fell and hit her head in the police cells 17 days earlier, after being arrested for public drunkenness. Police officers told the coroner she had been detained for her own protection, to sober up, but the coroner found that the welfare checks conducted by two police officers responsible for Day’s care in the cells were inadequate and not compliant with police guidelines, and that one of those offices was not a “credible witness”.
No internal sanctions have been issued by Victoria police against any officer involved. The force said it acknowledged the loss and suffering experienced by Day’s family.
[Source : The Guardian]
14.08.2020 – Taking Hard Line, Greece Turns Back Migrants by Abandoning Them at Sea
The Greek government has secretly expelled more than 1,000 refugees from Europe’s borders in recent months, sailing many of them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and then abandoning them in inflatable and sometimes overburdened life rafts.
Since March, at least 1,072 asylum seekers have been dropped at sea by Greek officials in at least 31 separate expulsions, according to an analysis of evidence by The New York Times from three independent watchdogs, two academic researchers and the Turkish Coast Guard. The Times interviewed survivors from five of those episodes and reviewed photographic or video evidence from all 31.
“It was very inhumane,” said Najma al-Khatib, a 50-year-old Syrian teacher, who says masked Greek officials took her and 22 others, including two babies, under cover of darkness from a detention center on the island of Rhodes on July 26 and abandoned them in a rudderless, motorless life raft before they were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard. […]
Illegal under international law, the expulsions are the most direct and sustained attempt by a European country to block maritime migration using its own forces since the height of the migration crisis in 2015, when Greece was the main thoroughfare for migrants and refugees seeking to enter Europe.
The Greek government denied any illegality. […]
“These pushbacks are totally illegal in all their aspects, in international law and in European law,” said Prof. François Crépeau, an expert on international law and a former United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. […]
Greeks were once far more understanding of the plight of migrants. But many have grown frustrated and hostile after a half-decade in which other European countries offered Greece only modest assistance as tens of thousands of asylum seekers languished in squalid camps on overburdened Greek islands.
Since the election last year of a new conservative government under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece has taken a far harder line against the migrants — often refugees from the war in Syria — who push off Turkish shores for Europe.
The harsher approach comes as tensions have mounted with Turkey, itself burdened with 3.6 million refugees from the Syrian war, far more than any other nation. […]
[Read the full article on : The New York Times]
13.08.2020 – U.N. Sounds Alarm as Belarus Police Open Fire on Anti-Government Protesters
In Belarus, police fired live ammunition, stun grenades and water cannons at anti-government protesters as demonstrations calling for the ouster of longtime authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko continued for a fourth straight evening. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights called the police use of force excessive and a clear violation of international human rights standards, saying 6,000 people have been detained — including children — with at least two protesters killed by police.
In a harrowing video broadcast by Belarus state television, a half-dozen terrified protesters are shown lined up against a wall with injuries to their heads as, one by one, they promise to no longer take part in anti-government protests.
On Wednesday, hundreds of women dressed in white marched peacefully through the streets of Minsk demanding an end to police brutality.
Protester: “We stand against violence, against people getting beaten. We are standing against our children living in such a forceful state. We just want a bright future for us and our children.”
[Sources : DemocracyNow!, The New York Times]