Human rights of migrants: complaints regarding police treatment still not investigated

Although the Ombudswoman Lora Vidović has repeatedly warned on migrants’ complaints on police violence, she has not yet received the answer from neither the Ministry of Interior nor from the Chief State Attorney’s Office (DORH) about undertaken efficient investigations which should confirm or deny the allegations. This was reported to the Parliamentary Committee on Human and National Minority Rights at the thematic session held on 18th October 2018.

Thus it is still not known why parts of thermal cameras video are missing, one of the examples being a part shot at the exact time of the alleged incident reported to Ombudswoman, even though the video just before and just after it is recorded. The police claimed the electricity went out exactly at the time of the alleged incident, but the Ministry of Interior has not answered the question as to whether they have informed and whom, on the power supply failure. Also, since all events are noted in the registry of the thermal and camera system, in case the video was erased, there should be a log containing the name of the person that erased the video, and probably an official memo on who has ordered it.

In case of the death of the girl Madina Hussiny, the recordings were not accessible to Ombudswoman since the Ministry of Interior claimed they were not kept. In January of this year the Ombudswoman has informed the Chief State Attorney (letter attached at the end of this article) on all the circumstances of this incident as well as on all other findings on the police treatment of migrants within the context of the criminal charges filed by the family Hussiny. After the media reported on the rejection of the criminal charges, the Ombudswoman requested the information from the Chief State Attorney’s Office officially, but received no reply. This is why it remains unknown if all thermal video was taken into account for the needs of making the decision on the rejection of the criminal charges, or only the ones from the mobile cameras, and the same goes for the data on movement and location of police officers through the signal from their mobile phones or other communication devices.

It is important to note that, according to the European Court of Human Rights, the state is obliged to conduct an official investigation on all allegations regarding torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or in other words, regarding the violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In addition, this year the Ombudswoman - commissioner of the Croatian Parliament responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms – was for the first time and in several occasions denied immediate access to data, despite the fact that she is entitled to them in accordance with the Data Secrecy Act, the Ombudsman Act and the Act on the National Preventive Mechanism. This occurred in the police stations in Glina, Gvozd, Cetingrad, Karlovac and Donji Lapac, and constitutes serious infringement of the legislation that entitles the Ombudswoman to access the data, making it impossible for her to continue her work in accordance with her mandates. It is also indicative that the Ombudswoman’s access to data is still undisturbed in the visits to police stations regarding human rights of the groups other than migrants.

This is just part of information delivered to the Committee - you can find the full text attached, as well as the letter sent to the Chief State Attorney in January.