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Observation report on Independence March

The HFHR prepared an observation report on the Independence March in Warsaw that took place on 11 November 2013.
“The report is based only on the information prepared by ten independent observers from the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights who participated in the monitoring – on their reports and on their recorded video and photographic materials”, says Danuta Przywara, President of the HFHR. “Hence it should not be treated as comprehensive observation but as an objective summary of what the observers managed to see”, adds Ms Przywara.

The observers focused on the measures applied by the Police to ensure safety of the March participants and residents of Warsaw and to protect property. They also paid attention to how the Police reacted to violations of the rule of peaceful conduct of rallies.

According to the HFHR, the Police have taken appropriate action to enable the participants of the march to exercise their freedom of expression. The HFHR, however, believes that the Police failed to provide adequate protection for the March participants because they made no response to bangers and flares thrown during the March.

Moreover, according to the HFHR “actions taken by the Police to ensure safety for the residents of Warsaw and visitors, and to protect property, were definitely insufficient. Moving the Police cordon away from the route of the March delayed Police response”, reads the report.

At the same time, the HFHR acknowledges that the actions taken by the Police in response to the disturbance of public order – after they were undertaken – were proportional and the deployed forces – adequate.

The HFHR admits that although Warsaw municipal authorities took a justified decision to terminate the gathering, the decision itself was communicated to the March participants too late.

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