ERGO network and other Roma, pro-Roma and anti-racist CSOs call for an independent investigation into the death of Stanislav Tomáš
Gabriela Hrabaňová, director of the European Roma Grassroots Organization Network, in 2017 (PHOTO: Romea.cz)
the European Roma grassroots organizations (ERGO) Network and other Roma, pro-Roma and anti-racist civil society organizations call for an independent and thorough investigation into the death of Roma Stanislav Tomáš from Teplice, Czech Republic, who died shortly after police intervened against him. News server Romea.cz publishes its statement in full here:
European Roma Grassroots Organizations Network and other Roma and pro-Roma and anti-racist civil society organizations demand justice for Stanislav Tomáš
June 29, 2021
The European Network of Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO), as well as other Roma, pro-Roma and anti-racist civil society organizations, wish to express our sincere condolences to the family and relatives of Stanislav Tomáš, and hope that justice will be made quickly.
We therefore call for an independent, thorough and objective investigation into the death of Stanislav Tomáš, a Roma from Teplice, Czech Republic, who died shortly after two police officers knelt on him to immobilize him.
We are very disturbed by the footage showing the last moments of Stanislav’s life as the police attempt to arrest him using excessive force.
The amount of constant pressure applied to Stanislav’s upper body, neck and neck is wholly inadequate and disproportionate to the act of restraining and handcuffing a person. In addition, the immobilization and pressure continued long after he was handcuffed, until he stopped screaming and moving. As the video ended before it was known for sure if he was still alive before the ambulance arrived, it can be seen that he was silent and inert. However, in the police opening statements, they deny that the policeman’s tactics could have caused or contributed to Stanislav’s death, claiming that he died in the ambulance. In addition, they stated that, according to the preliminary autopsy report, they had reason to conclude that he was under the influence of a foreign substance of an amphetamine nature, and the autopsy found pathological changes in the arteries. coronaries of the heart. Regardless of these circumstances, the actions of the police were grossly unjustifiable and disproportionate, and an abuse of power.
It is concerning that senior Czech government officials, in particular the Interior Minister and the Prime Minister, have supported the police as their role is to remain impartial and await the results of the official investigation into the case, allowing the justice system and those directly involved in the investigative process to do their jobs. In addition, the Prime Minister was quick to conclude that Stanislav had not died as a result of the police intervention, solely on the basis of the preliminary results of the autopsy, without waiting for the final results of the procedure. investigation. The two officials also disparaged Stanislav to justify the action and methods of the police.
Establishing moral hierarchies on who should be protected before the law or on the level of police intervention on the basis of moral judgments and characterizations is very dangerous, especially coming from the highest level of Czech political leadership and would constitute a violation of the police code of conduct and responsibilities. The police, especially in democratic societies and in the European Union, are there to serve and protect, whatever the circumstances of a situation or whoever is involved. In this particular case, there is no evidence to prove that the person posed an immediate threat to themselves and / or others, and therefore the use of excessive force and constant pressure on their trachea. was neither legitimate nor proportionate.
We urge the European institutions to call for an independent, effective and impartial investigation into the situation, so that police officers are thoroughly investigated and duly sanctioned according to the level of infringement and damage committed.
We also draw attention to the need to protect the privacy and security of eyewitnesses, including protecting them from potential threats from non-state actors and the police, if they are willing to participate in the investigation. and / or court hearings.
It is crucial that the investigation of the police intervention also takes into account racial motivation, in accordance with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
We call on EU leaders, the Czech government, the media and non-state actors to take a clear stand against anti-Gypsyism and police violence, including in their public statements. In addition, we call on state officials and the Czech media to refrain from blaming the victim and stigmatizing his family and loved ones. The focus should remain on the adequacy or lack of response from the police leading up to Stanislav’s death, and nothing else.
We call on the Czech Parliament, the Public Defender of Rights and other responsible institutions to open an investigation into the biased, derogatory public statements and possible related actions by the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior in this matter.
We call on the EU institutions to launch a Europe-wide review of nationally recommended policing techniques and methods, in particular to determine whether the authorized methods of restraining and detaining a person include the use of the method of restraining and detaining a person. kneel on the neck and work with member states to ban hazard methods that can cause irreversible damage or death.
As human rights defenders, we take a strong stand against police violence and inadequate police response, especially when interacting with people from racial minorities.
Roma lives matter!
European Roma Rights Center, Brussels
European Network Against Racism, Brussels
Equinox Racial Justice Initiative, Brussels
AGE Europe platform, Brussels
Romanonet network, Czech Republic
ROMEA Association, Czech Republic
Life together, Czech Republic
Slovo 21 Association, Czech Republic