12 May 2019

Report Of The People's Advocate On The Protests Held Yesterday And The Following Developments


The People's Advocate has followed the dynamics of the protests held yesterday evening and the behavior of law enforcement institutions during the procedures of arrest of those citizens who were considered by these organs, as in violation of the law.

In the course of the implementation of its constitutional competences, the People's Advocate Institution, despite its limited human capacities, has conducted field monitoring with four inspecting teams, throughout the duration of the protest.

After the termination of the protest, other special groups have been organized to carry out inspections at the Tirana Police Directorate as well as at the Trauma Hospital. A series of findings have been made which will be reflected in a number of recommendations on the conduct of law enforcement institutions and the level of protection of human rights, which will be officially presented.

However, in the function of transparency to the public, the Ombudsman informs as following:

- The People's Advocate notes with concern the attempt from the Police authorities to limit the right of peaceful assembly by setting time limits for the conduct of the protests. The practice of informing the police on the development of protests continues to be considered by the Police as a procedure of asking them permit to be allowed to exercise this right, which is contrary to the constitutional right of citizens to peaceful assembly and also contrary to the spirit of the law on the Peaceful Assembly.

- During the protest, violence episodes against the institutions and law enforcement forces have been noted, for which the People's Advocate has repeatedly called to be avoided at any cost and under any circumstance.

- The disproportionate use of tear gas as a tool to dispel protests by the police continues to be a troubling problem for which the People's Advocate is concerned.

- The People's Advocate is repeatedly concerned by the fact that the means used by the police during the handling of the protests do not guarantee the media to perform unharmed and freely their duty. Also, the careless use of tear gas in heavily populated areas of the city has been reported to have caused concerns for a large number of families and citizens.

- During the night hours a large number of detentions (around 90) and arrests of protest participants were verified, and today during our verification process on all the police stations of Tirana, it has been noted that a considerable part of them were released.

- Irregularities have been noted in the records of persons escorted to the Police Directorate of Tirana as well as failure to perform some procedural actions in accordance with the respective protocols.

- At the Trauma Hospital there were 12 police officers reporting minor injuries as well as a protester and a journalist.

- Among the police officers visited, one of them has referred to being hit on the head with the wooden support of a protest banner. A police officer said she was injured by tear gas due to the malfunctioning of her anti-fog mask. While 10 other police officers referred minor injuries from noise detonators or stones thrown to them. However none of them has been evaluated by medical teams as eligible for treatment.

- As specialists of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture were banned from entering the hospital to visit the citizen S.D. (for which there was public evidence of the practice of violence), the People's Advocate Erinda Ballanca met him personally in the hospital during the night.

- There has been a tendency to create unreasonable obstacles by the Police for the People's Advocate representatives who have a constitutional mandate to gather timely and effectively evidence for either detainees at police stations and those injured in health centers.

- The Ombudsman has ascertained that citizen S.D. at the time of the visit was being kept under proper health care. He displayed a good psychological condition, but testified for health concerns. The citizen referred for being subjected to exercise of violence (during and after its escort to the police station), he showed shoulder dislocation and other minor injuries of various types.

- The measures implemented by the State Police for the delivery and maintenance of the premises of the Trauma Hospital were even tougher than those for the preservation of the arrested or convicted persons, although against the citizen S.D. no measure of arrest was taken but instead he was just merely escorted. On the other hand, the People's Advocate employees were surprised to learn they were not allowed to receive photographic evidence at the hospital during the visits of the injured.