12 September 2013
According to the media and a short video tape policemen applied coercive measures on individuals at savaria festival in szombathely. Based on publicly accessible information, infringement of individuals’ rights may have taken place. It is possible to provide an assessment of the measures adopted by the police force based on facts revealed in a legal procedure.
An extract from an eye witness reported in the press states: ‘Someone suddenly called on the drummers at the Festival to stop immediately because they were not authorized to play as no fee had been paid. People started to take it seriously when out of nowhere, two dozen policemen along with security guards appeared and started to push into the crowd. Those who were there will always remember the scene where bystanders were handcuffed and arrested after they were violently beaten with truncheons because they tried to help a girl who was dragged on the ground by the police..’
A few of the incidents described above appear on the video which is available. It is evident that the police applied coercive force on individuals present at the Festival. However, it is not clear what events occurred prior to the police action; whether individuals at the Festival acted in a manner which warranted the use of force and whether the police carried out the rule of law according to the below measures prescribed:
- If they identified themselves prior to the measures and communicated their aims and purposes effectively;
- If they first requested an end to any offensive action;
- If they adopted proportionate and less restrictive measures, such as identity checks, at first instance;
- If they gave proper and effective warning that stricter measures, such as physical force and handcuffs, will be adopted if the offensive action did not stop.
If these prescribed measures were not carried out accordingly, then this will result in the use of illegal force by the police.
According to the Rules of Conduct of the police, following every coercive measure carried out by the police, the Chief of Police is bound to investigate the legality of that action. In this case, this investigation can only be carried out effectively if it takes into account the statements made by the victims and external witnesses, in addition to the police reports.