Czech Govt Human Rights Commissioner calls for investigation of police intervention against Romani man who later died to be made a priority
Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Helena Válková has called for an objective investigation into the circumstances of the death of a Romani man on Saturday in Teplice to be made a priority. She issued her statement yesterday to the Czech News Agency.
Stanislav Tomáš, a 46-year-old Romani community member, was intervened against by the police, after which they say he died in the ambulance called to the scene. The preliminary results of the autopsy are said by police to have ruled out any association between his death and their intervention, and the police said the cause of death was apparently a drug overdose.
The proportionality of the intervention is being investigated by the police Internal Affairs Department and will also be investigated by the Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights, Monika Šimůnková. The Czech Goverment Human Rights Commissioner has now said the public needs to get objective, substantiated information about the causes, course and consequences of this unfortunate event, which is disturbing to both the Romani minority and the general public, as soon as possible.
"The tension in Teplice after the events of the weekend is accelerating, unfortunately, which is disturbing not just to the Romani minority, but also to the rest of the public who need to have objective, substantiated information about the causes, course and consequences of this unfortunate incident as soon as possible," the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner said in a statement. "For that reason, I have decided to publicly, as the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner, call on the authorities that are able to and required to investigate this matter to consider it a priority and to be aware that all delays can give rise to various speculations and rumors."
The Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner said she does not doubt the matter will be objectively investigated and that the findings as to whether the death happened as a result of excessive use of force by the police or whether this was an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances will be publicized. The Czech branch of human rights organization Amnesty International has called for a thorough investigation and called the police intervention brutal and unlawful.
Amateur video of the intervention by police was posted to social media on the weekend. The footage shows the man physically resisting and shouting and police officers using force to restrain him.
News server Romea.cz previously reported that the footage shows the intervening police officer kneeling on the detainee's neck for several minutes. According to police, the man then collapsed and died in the ambulance called to the scene.
Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) has expressed his full support for the intervening officers. He said that anybody who breaks the law under the influence of addictive substances must count on police intervening against them.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has also thanked the officers. The director of the Czech branch of Amnesty International, Linda Sokačová, has expressed her shock on Twitter at the PM thanking the officers before there has been an independent, thorough investigation of whether their intervention could have contributed, however indirectly, to the man's death.
The Council of Europe has also called for an immediate, independent, thorough investigation of the death of the Romani man in Teplice after the intervention by police. That institution, which strives to see fundamental human rights and freedoms developed and upheld, said the footage of the incident is disturbing and raises many questions.
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