Sunday, 28 October 2012

Peaceful Protest

 Police Brutalizes Demonstrators In Europe: Amnesty International
By Countercurrents.org

Anti-austerity demonstrators in Europe have suffered excessive police violence, Amnesty International said on October 25, 2012 in a report urging the EU governments to protect the right to peaceful protest.
The rights group said people rallying against government spending cuts, tax rises and job losses in countries hit by the eurozone crisis and elsewhere had sometimes been seriously injured by police or had had medical treatment withheld.
"People demonstrating peacefully in EU countries have been beaten, kicked, shot at and wounded with rubber bullets and sprayed with tear gas," Amnesty said.
"Yet excessive use of force by police goes uninvestigated and unpunished."
The Amnesty report, "Policing demonstrations in the European Union", described several cases where police had severely beaten protesters in Greece, Spain and Romania.
Greek journalist Manolis Kypreos was left completely deaf in June 2011 after police threw a stun grenade at him, the report added.
Kypreos has since recovered some hearing but his disability has effectively ended his career, Amnesty said.
"Governments must spell out and reiterate that police officers may use force only when strictly necessary," said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty's campaign coordinator for Europe and Central Asia.
"They must introduce strict guidelines on the use of potentially lethal riot-control devices such as pepper spray and tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets."
The report warned that excessive force and arbitrary arrests of protesters could turn anger against governments into anger against the police, increasing the risk of violence at anti-austerity demonstrations.
Under international law, police can only use force when it is required for them to perform their duty and they must be restrained in its use, Amnesty said.
Police forces in several European countries have faced budget cuts themselves as governments seek to shrink their huge deficits, the report added.
On the other hand, the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed concern on October 25, 2012 after Russia's lower house passed a law broadening the definition of treason.
"The new law would expand the scope for prosecution of and reduce the burden of proof for charges of treason and espionage," her office said in a statement.
"The abstract definition of treason contained in the law will make it difficult to apply in a fair manner. It also potentially penalizes contacts with foreign nationals with up to 20 years in prison."
Human rights activists have attacked the bill passed on October 23, 2012 as a further attempt to curb opposition to President Vladimir Putin. They say the measures could criminalize sharing information with organizations such as Amnesty International or even appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.
The statement said the new law follows a number of recent legislative and judicial developments in Russia that, taken together, "would limit the space for civil society development, and increase the scope for intimidation."
"We will be monitoring the implementation of this law closely," the statement added.
The bill is likely to be swiftly passed by the upper house of parliament and signed into law by Putin.
It follows legislation that brands advocacy groups with foreign funding as "foreign agents", criminalizes slander and blacklists websites unfavorable to the government -- all introduced within months of Putin's return to the Kremlin in May for a third presidential term.
Source:  EUbusiness