April 27, 2017

Police officers, their superiors, attackers and protest organizers are responsible for the riots in Parliament

Soon after the election of a President of the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia by the parliamentary majority, the organizers and participants in the “For a Joint Macedonia” protest, violently broke into the parliament building. As is obvious from the video footage, the police officers in charge of guarding the premises and ensuring the security of the people in parliament, allowed uninterrupted forceful entering of the protesters. People wearing hoods and black masks over their faces, carrying objects designed to threaten the physical integrity of the people in Parliament were also allowed to enter. Soon after several MPs were hurt, and no presence of police officers was observed in the places where the crimes were committed.

The Helsinki Committee highlights that those responsible for this act of vandalism are the attackers, protest organizers and, particularly, the police officers on the premises, along with their superiors. In accordance with the Law on Police, the concern for the police readiness to act and work in conditions of a complex security situation and for crimes committed by a structured group of three or more people is under the authority of the Public Security Bureau. The Head of the Bureau is Mitko Chavkov, without whose knowledge and order the police powers must not be enforced or rejected. According to the Criminal Code, violence committed by a group over several citizens which causes a feeling of insecurity, jeopardy or fear in the public, is a serious crime. It is obvious that the police officers not taking action is due to an unlawful order or abuse of official position. Both the perpetrators and their superiors are to be held responsible for this.

In accordance with the Law on Public Gatherings, the protest organizers and the Police are bound to shut down the rally, in case the life and health, security and personal safety of people and property are in danger. Instead of this, the protest organizers forcefully entered Parliament supported by the police, and called on the other protesters to join them. With this act, the protest organizers, together with the actual offenders, are directly responsible for the violence, bodily injury of the MPs, the unlawful deprivation of liberty and the other crimes committed in Parliament.

The Helsinki Committee urges the Department for Internal Control under the MoI and the Public Prosecution to conduct urgent investigation to establish the responsibility of all those involved in today’s violent riots. The investigation must start by detaining all the police officers who abused their power, their superiors, the offenders and organizers of the protest “For a Joint Macedonia”.

We appeal to the citizens to remain calm and the protesters to be urgently withdrawn from the Parliament building.