The Protector of Citizens determined that Ministry of Interior officers during the July 2020 protests in Belgrade and Novi Sad acted illegally and improperly against certain citizens, that they did not have prominent official IDs and that the Internal Control Sector only in one case established the identity of the persons who acted illegally.
Further to the information obtained from the media and social network videos, the Protector of Citizens initiated eight own initiative investigations to control work regularity and legality of the Ministry of Interior and determined that in all those cases there were omissions regarding the treatment of individual citizens by police officers in the period from 8 to 11 July 2020.
The omissions consist in the unauthorized use of force and the illegal and improper use of coercive means by police officers against individual citizens, thus infringing on their right to inviolability of physical and mental integrity and the right to dignity, and then in the fact that the police officers did not have discernable official IDs, which made it difficult to conduct an investigation and determine their individual responsibility.
The Protector of Citizens also identified as an omission that Internal Control Sector did not immediately upon learning, i.e. without delay, undertake all actions and activities in order to establish the factual situation and obtain evidence, as well as individual responsibilities of police officers who acted illegally and improperly against individual citizens.
In the recommendations, the Protector of Citizens states that it is necessary for the Ministry of Interior to ensure, through continuous training, that all police officers act in compliance with the law when exercising their powers, as well as to ensure that all police officers, when securing public gatherings, maintaining public order and peace and applying police powers to citizens, have discernable official IDs on the grounds of which they can be easily identified.
"The Minister of Interior, Police Director and the Heads of Police Administrations, fulfilling their role in the fight against impunity for torture, will send a strong message that inadequate treatment of citizens is illegal, unprofessional and subject to adequate sanctions. Achieving this goal will be ensured by conducting an effective investigation, determining individual responsibility and sanctioning responsible police officers, “the recommendation reads.
The Protector of Citizens specifies in the recommendation that the Internal Control Sector should take all actions aimed at identifying responsible police officers immediately in the future, as soon as it learns that there has been illegal action to the detriment of citizens' rights. The Protector of Citizens expects that the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia will inform him within 60 days about acting on this recommendation.