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HFHR asks Police to remove protesters’ images from a website

In a letter sent to the Chief Commissioner of the Warsaw Police Department, the HFHR is asking for the removal of images of participants in the public assemblies held near the Sejm building on 16 and 17 December 2016. The images are displayed on the Department’s official website. In their response, the Police noted that publication was ordered by a prosecutor’s office.

HFHR’s letter

In the letter, the Foundation states that publication of photographs of protesters, which is not accompanied by a description of their status in criminal proceedings, the purpose of proceedings and a type of an alleged breach of the legal order, is an excessive and unlawful practice. The letter emphasised that neither the Code of Criminal Procedure nor the Police Act provided legal grounds for such a display.

The Foundation’s letter reiterated that an online display of photographs of participants in a public assembly may violate several rights and freedoms, including personal interests, the presumption of innocence and right to privacy. Moreover, the course of action taken by the Police is not justified by the importance of events that unfolded near the Sejm, which makes it even more likely to have a “freezing effect” on citizens.

Response of the Chief Commissioner of the Warsaw Police

In a letter sent to the HFHR, the Chief Commissioner of the Warsaw Police notes that photographs of persons were published on the website of the Warsaw Police Department at the request of the prosecutor from the Regional Prosecutor’s Office who was in charge the proceedings. “[…] It would be advisable that the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights addressed its objections directly to the Prosecutor who ordered the publication of the photographs”, reads the letter.

The Police also refer to the fact that they have previously resorted to the publication of images on websites in connection with other events. As stressed by the Police these measures resulted in convictions by courts so this mode of Police operation has not been questioned.

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