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Detention of a Dutch journalist: response of the Chief Commissioner of the Warsaw Police

Counsel representing C. A., an Italian national, approached the HFHR to report inadequacies during the arrest of her client. The Court ruled that the arrest of C.A. was lawful and justified but her placement in police custody and a personal search conducted on her were inappropriate.

C.A. was arrested at a pedestrian crossing at the corner of the Warsaw streets Nowy Świat and Świętokrzyska, together with her Polish companion P.A. Police officers asked C.A. for an ID and conducted a blood alcohol test on her.  Subsequently, without informing her of the results of the test, they brought her to a station in the centre of Warsaw. C.A. was locked in a cell over night. It was early in the morning when she was handcuffed and brought to a room, where she waited for an interpreter and P.A., who himself was released around 3 a.m.  Only on leaving the station the arrested was given a written letter of rights.

Consequently, the Foundation addressed inspector superintendent Mirosław Schossler, the Chief Commissioner of the Warsaw Police, asking him to investigate the arrest of C.A. and take precautionary measures to avoid such incidents in the future. In light of then soon to start EURO football championships, the HFHR was concerned with differences between the treatment of foreigners and Polish nationals.

In the response the Chief Commissioner advised the HFHR that: “in an effort to raise the professional level of operations of the police officers, the assessment of the instant case made by the Internal Affairs Department of the National Police Headquarters was forwarded to the police officers whose conduct had been questioned. The conclusions of the assessment were used during training courses for police officers”.

At the same time, the HFHR must note that the Police seem to fail to take a lesson from the arrest of C.A., as it is confirmed by the arrest of Bert van der Linden, a Dutch journalist. He was arrested for riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol. He was unaware that he was committing an offence. Despite the fact that police identified the Dutch and he admitted the offence, he was kept in police custody over night.

The case of Mr van der Linden, who later described his story in an extensive reportage for a popular Dutch web portal, has attracted a lot of attention in the Netherlands.

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