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HFHR’s statement regarding the mistake of the police special unit

In Katowice, a tactical unit of the police deployed to arrest a wanted criminal targeted the wrong apartment and subdued an innocent couple. The HFHR issued a letter to the Chief Commissioner of the Police, expressing concern over the course of the unit’s action.

According to the account of the couple, their flat was stormed by armed officers in tactical gear. The man was handcuffed and shoved on the floor, the officers kneeling on his back to restrain him. The woman says her head was repeatedly banged against the floor. Only after the husband’s ID had been checked, the officers realised their mistake. A preliminary estimate says the attack caused losses of PLN 15,000.

In the opinion of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights such conduct of the police is utterly unacceptable. The reported officers’ behaviour constitutes a violation of the constitutionally protected rights and freedoms of an individual, including the inviolability of a person and their home (articles 41 and 50 of the Polish Constitution), the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (article 40 of the Constitution). It needs to be explicitly noted that police officers are obliged to comply with the latter prohibition in all their actions, including taking into arrest wanted criminals.

The HFHR issued a statement, asking the National Police Headquarters to investigate the case. The statement also read: ‘We further request that the Police units responsible for planning, coordinating and executing this action be named and identified’.

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