Victims of police brutality in the Czech Republic lack access to justice and are often forced to seek redress before the European Court of Human Rights because the investigative and judicial failures of the state.
"For example, we helped one man who was illegally detained and beaten by police. In another case, we helped relatives of a young man who died under mysterious circumstances in a police station," said a representative of the League of Human Rights, which has recently settled these cases and received damages for the victim.
A recurring problem when assisting victims of police brutality in the Czech Republic is the utter failure of the General Inspection of Security Forces (GIBS), which does not fulfill its function to investigate cases of inhuman and degrading treatment. In fact, a complaint against GIBS for its failure to investigate cases of abuse was recently sent to the European Court of Human Rights.
In March 2014, on the occasion of the International Day against Police Brutality, a complaint was filed against the director of GIBS for his failure to investigate cases of police brutality and suspected ties to corruption. According to several independent sources, a fund intended to finance confidential informants was skimmed of approximately 7 million Czech crowns. The public prosecutor, however, refused to pursue the complaint.
Lack of oversight
Government oversight of GIBS is also lacking. The state argues that it has no control over its day-to-day functions and is an independent entity. Logically, however, GIBS should be independent from those being investigated, not independent from any control or oversight.
One example of police brutality that went unpunished involved the filming of a police raid. A television cameraman received four broken ribs after an unexpected punch from a riot squad officer. The assault caused water to collect in his lungs and required several weeks’ recovery.
The cameraman filed a complaint and even attended hearings about the investigation of his assault, which was witnessed by several others, but soon after the case was postponed for unknown reasons. When it became clear that the prosecutor would not pursue it, the Czech police closed the case by deciding, absurdly, that the officer’s "intervention" was appropriate and responsibility for the incident rested with the cameraman.