Amnesty criticizes lack of transparency within German police | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.07.2010
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Amnesty criticizes lack of transparency within German police

A new report by human rights watchdog Amnesty International has harangued Germany for what it claims is a failure by authorities to properly investigate claims of police abuse and misuse of force.

German riot police apprehend protestors during the G8 meeting at Heiligendamm

Amnesty says police are too violent at demonstrations

Germany has come under fire in a new report by a prominent international rights group, which says Europe's largest country fails to sufficiently probe claims of police abuse and use of excessive force.

The Amnesty International paper, "Unknown Assailant," details three deaths and 12 cases of serious injury that followed police action in the last five years. Amnesty says it believes there could be many more such cases that have gone unreported.

"Law enforcement officials are not above the law - they are subject to it. This means that the police must be accountable to the law, to the state and to the public," said David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia deputy program director, in a statement.

"Failure to live up to international standards on effective and independent investigations is leading to a climate of impunity and a lack of accountability."

The report states there is no sign of systematic abuse by police in Germany, but that enforcement authorities used excessive force during arrests, against suspects held in police custody, against protesters at demonstrations and during deportations.

The rights group called on the German government to establish independent police complaints bodies, to ensure that police officers are individually identifiable when on duty and to provide regular training to police officers in the legal, safe and proportionate use of force.

Infamous case

German police reenact the death of Oury Jalloh

Police reenacted the death of Oury Jalloh in attempt to provide some answers

The report describes the death of Sierra Leonean asylum seeker Oury Jalloh while he was in police custody in 2005.

Jalloh burned to death after having been tied to a bed in a cell at a police station in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. Amnesty says police failed to regularly monitor him while he was physically constrained and ignored initial fire alarms. The accused police officers remain in office, Amnesty adds.

The report also gives an eye-witness account provided by a Berlin man who says he was beaten by police. The man, identified only as MM, says he had been celebrating his stag night in a club when it was interrupted by a police raid.

"At 1:30 a.m. around 300 police officers entered the club to search it based on information that … football hooligans were going to gather there," the report says. "Some of the police officers' faces were concealed, some wearing balaclavas and others helmets.

"Suddenly, our party was over when masked figures stormed in and lashed out randomly at everything that moved," MM says, adding that he was hit on the head with a side-handle baton.

Reportedly, MM lost his balance and was again hit in the face by one of the masked police officers. MM was diagnosed with suffering trauma and two lacerations to the head.

Amnesty says it was not possible for MM to identify the police officers involved in his ill treatment, and that it was therefore not possible to hold them accountable.

Author: Darren Mara (AP/AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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