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HFHR protests against online publication of Sejm protesters’ images on Police website

“The HFHR opposes the publication of images of persons who took part in a gathering near the Sejm on 16 and 17 December 2016 on the website of the Warsaw Police Department”, reads a statement issued by the Foundation.

According to the Police, the persons whose images were made public had allegedly been involved in a “violation of legal order”. However, there has been no indication of the nature of the alleged violation. Additionally, the Police opened dedicated telephone lines for anybody who has information about the individuals concerned.

“We think there are no explicit legal grounds for the publication of images of these persons on the website of the Warsaw Police Department. (…) It should also be noted that the publication of their images may amount to an infringement of their personal interests and result in compensatory liability”, reads the statement. The HFHR further emphasises that such actions of public authorities may be contrary to the provisions of the Constitution that refer to the presumption of innocence, respect for private life and freedom of peaceful assembly.

“A publication of images of persons participating in a public assembly in a way that resembles dissemination of wanted notices may produce a “freezing effect” among potential protesters. A citizen will reasonably fear that if they attend a street protest against the government they may be charged with a criminal offence. This behaviour on the part of the Police should certainly be considered disproportionate”, judges Piotr Kubaszewski, a member of the Foundation’s legal team.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights calls on the authorities to act in accordance with law and in a way that does not violate fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed for citizens in the Polish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

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