Amnesty International calls on the Czech authorities to immediately, impartially and thoroughly investigate the police intervention after which a Romani man died
According to the available video footage of an arrest published by news server Romea.cz, three police officers used force against a Romani man in Teplice on 19 June 2021 during that arrest. The video footage shows the man lying on the ground while police restrain him.
One of the officers knelt on the man's neck throughout the intervention, which according to the footage lasted at least five minutes. The officer continues to kneel on the man's neck even after he is handcuffed and no longer resisting.
Amnesty International (AI) is of the opinion that the technique of applying pressure to the neck used by the police during this arrest was disproportionate, reckless, unnecessary and therefore illegal. AI is calling on the Czech authorities to ban the use of such techniques as a means of intervention because they fatally restrict breathing.
AI considers the police intervention captured in this video footage to be brutal and unlawful - applying pressure to the neck restricts breathing and poses significant danger to human life and is all the more serious when used for several minutes at a time. AI reminds the Czech authorities that according to international law and human rights norms, including the European Convention on Human Rights, the force used by police must be lawful, necessary and proportionate.
Those principles are legally binding on the Czech Republic. In domestic legislation, Act No. 273/2008 Coll. on the Police of the Czech Republic regulates the obligations of active-duty police officers.
That law does not allow police to interfere with the rights of others beyond what is necessary to achieve the aim they are pursuing, which must be legitimate. The use of force is permitted only if it is necessary and proportionate.
Czech law requires the police to ensure that they do not cause harm - "[The police] shall try to prevent disproportionate risks caused by their behavior." On the basis of the video footage of the police intervention against the man in Teplice, AI doubts whether the requirements of necessity and proportionality were met in this case.
In particular, the level of the person's resistance captured in the video did not justify the use of such an extremely dangerous technique, much less after he had already refrained from resisting for so long. AI is also disturbed by the statement of the Interior Minister on 21 June 2021, when he posted to social media that the officers who intervened against the man in Teplice have his "full support".
The Interior Minister went on to say that persons "who break the law under the influence of addictive substances must count on police intervening against them." This can only be understood to mean that law enforcement authorities are being allowed unnecessary latitude and the possibility of the excessive use of force when manipulating any person who is under the influence of drugs, and that provides the police with a dangerous sense of impunity that goes far beyond any of these binding legal frameworks.
According to the police statement published on 21 June 2021, the preliminary autopsy calls drug use a possible cause of the death of the man in Teplice. The police statement touches on the autopsy findings according to which there were pathological changes to the man's cardiovascular system.
In this regard AI recommends that when investigating the causes of death it is not necessary to prove that the sole cause of death was the use of a means or technique of force. It is enough to understand the use of force as a contributing factor without which the death would not have happened.
In this case, a technique restricting breathing, one that causes serious pain, was applied for several minutes. It appears that there exists a high probability that such excessive use of force could have contributed to deteriorating any preexisting problem resulting from illness or the use of drugs and that the resulting death could therefore be attributed in part to the officers' action.
AI reminds the Interior Minister, the police, and other law enforcement authorities that the Czech Republic, according to its international human rights obligations, must immediately, independently, thoroughly and effectively investigate the death of the Romani man in Teplice. According to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the authorities are also obliged to undertake all reasonable steps to reveal the existence of any racist motivations when investigating incidents of violence and to determine whether ethnic hatred or prejudice could have played a role.
- Czech Police President backs officers who intervened against Romani man who later died, expresses regret at the loss of life - the first such statement
- Council of Europe seeks independent, thorough investigation of the death of Romani community member Stanislav Tomáš in Teplice, Czech Republic
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights will investigate controversial police intervention after which Romani community member Stanislav Tomáš died
- Romani Lives Matter. Czech town sees candles and flowers placed at the site of the tragic death of a Romani man after police intervention involving kneeling on his neck
- Czech Police release new video footage of what preceded police intervention against Romani man who died thereafter
- Civil society members of the Czech Govt Roma Council ask Interior Minister to prioritize the thorough investigation of the death of a Romani man after a police intervention
- Czech Police: According to court-ordered autopsy, death of young Romani man unconnected to police intervention
- Czech Police statement on their kneeling intervention: Internal Affairs is investigating, autopsy will determine cause of death, the man collapsed in the ambulance
- Romani man dies after Czech Police kneel on his neck, they say drugs caused his death. Romani activists see parallels to George Floyd
- Fire in Czech town destroys building where bereaved relatives of Stanislav Tomáš, the Romani man who died in police custody in June, were living
- LIVE BROADCAST TODAY: Discussion of the case of the death of Stanislav Tomáš, Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic
- Human rights activists: Czech police officers who intervened against Stanislav Tomáš should be suspended until investigations end, ban kneeling on the neck during interventions
- LIVE BROADCAST TOMORROW 10 AM: Press conference on the case of the death of Stanislav Tomáš in the Czech Republic
- Stanislav Tomáš, who died in police custody, laid to rest in Teplice, Czech Republic. Civil society and his family call for his death to be properly investigated
- Union of Vlax Roma in the Czech Republic files crime report in Stanislav Tomáš's death, calls for special commission in the lower house to investigate
- Justice for Stanislav. Family of the late Romani man from Teplice, Czech Republic publishes obituary, funeral will be Saturday
- Czech Police reject request for a second autopsy of the late Stanislav Tomáš, whose funeral will take place on Saturday, 24 July
- NGOs from four countries reject David Mezei's threats and vulgar attacks as endangering the investigation of the death of Stanislav Tomáš
- Commentary: David Mezei, false prophet, and the Romani elite of the Czech Republic
- Czech attorney for the family of Stanislav Tomáš has requested a second autopsy - Romea.cz refutes disinformation being spread by Facebook LIVE broadcasters
- Assembly against discrimination and racism in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic attended mostly by Romani people