Tech & Rights

Ants, a Chainsaw, and Inhuman Treatment by Czech Police

A protest against illegal logging in a Czech national park turned violent when police abused an activist before allowing park employees and a logger to do the same.

by The League of Human Rights
(Image: Rachel Zurier)
The Constitutional Court of Czechia has criticized the inability of police internal investigators to effectively investigate the case of suspected inhuman treatment.

Ants and a chainsaw

Czech police officers are guilty of committing violence against an activist during a protest against illegal logging operations in the Šumava National Park, the country's Constitutional Court ruled. The complainant, Jan Skalík, together with the Czech League of Human Rights, filed a criminal complaint against the police officers who chocked him and trampled over his legs.

In addition to this, the police stood back and allowed park management employees to pour ants behind Skalík's neck. A logger was also summoned to wield a running chainsaw a meter from his head in an attempt to intimidate him.

Investigation swept under the rug

During the investigation of the Skalík case, court authorities had acted half-heartedly and played down his statement. After Skalík filed a criminal complaint, they postponed the matter, saying that it was not a criminal offense.

Skalík sought recourse from all levels of law enforcement and demanded a proper investigation of the case, as well as personal access to the case file. He was denied, based on the fact that criminal proceedings were not instituted, without which a victim has no right to access any file.

According to the Constitutional Court, the ability of access the file is one way of controlling authorities' procedures and handling of cases.

'Very bad' inspectors

The General Inspection of Security Forces (GIBS), the internal affairs department for Czech police forces, employs former police officers, thus bringing into question the independence of its investigation.

In view of this, the Constitutional Court ordered an effective investigation into the event at once, and for police to charge anyone who committed a crime. The court said that the investigation must also be conducted with the participation of independent persons who are not currently or previously associated with the police.

"Using the General Inspection of Security Forces has been very bad since its inception, and this case only confirms our findings that there is a loose rule of law governing GIBS," says Zuzana Candigliota, a lawyer with the League of Human Rights.

According to the analysis, the problem is found in completely insufficient external control over GIBS and inadequate staff inspection.