The right to peaceful assembly wore the “hood” of violence
In the current events of the last few days in Chloraka and Limassol, “the right to peaceful assembly wore the “hood” of violence, violating the rights of third parties in relation to their physical integrity, but also causing material damage to their property”, he states in Maria Stylianou Lottidi, Commissioner for Administration and Protection of Human Rights, as National Human Rights Authority (NHRI).
It also calls on the leadership of the Police to take into account the racist motive when investigating the crimes that took place.
In her lengthy submission, the Commissioner states that these acts alone “gave the Authorities the ‘right’ to intervene in accordance with the provisions of the Law and the principle of proportionality, based on the incidents before them, so as to either prevent the violence and the consequences it had on its recipients, or to suppress it with the permitted legal and proportionate measures”.
According to Commissioner Lottidi, the “absence of immediate intervention “helped” the protesters to violate the rights of third parties, committing criminal acts and this in itself would be enough to conduct an investigation, collect witness material and arrest the perpetrators, with the aim of bringing them to justice before the competent court”.
It states that the acts of the perpetrators testify not only to simple offenses against the bodily integrity and property of third parties “but hate crimes because when the criminal acts are directed against a specific group of persons with specific characteristics, then the motivation is racist, the result of the cultivation of enmity or hatred “.
In her position, she states that there is an essential need for further awareness of the citizens and the training of frontline officials, so that they can recognize and deal with such offenses, as hate crimes which attract a heavier penalty, in order to prevent similar acts from other persons and avoid the imitation.
“It is therefore expected from the Chief of Police to whom I am sending this position as the Competent Authority, as during the investigation of the offenses that took place, to take into account the racist motive that was aimed at a group of people with specific characteristics and examine them based on the components of the hate crimes,” he says.
According to the Commissioner, “the woman from Vietnam was not the enemy, the enemy is the inactivity, fear and poverty that dragged her to our country and overwhelms the people for the benefit of the ‘big'”.
In her statement, the Commissioner refers in detail to the article of the Constitution on the right of peaceful assembly and to the fact that “the right to peaceful assembly cannot be limited except when such limitations are determined by law and are absolutely necessary in the interest of the security of the Republic , the constitutional order, public security, public order, public health, public morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution”.
It also refers to an article of the European Convention on Human Rights on the same subject and an article of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
“From the provisions above, it is immediately apparent that yes, there are restrictions on the exercise of the right in question, which are related, among other things, for reasons of public security, public order, but also the protection of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, in all persons residing in the territory of the Republic of Cyprus without exception,” the Commissioner emphasizes.
It also refers to the decision Osmani and Others v. “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, where although there was an intervention by the state in the right in question, the Court considered justified the interventions by the authorities in the right to assemble for the purposes of crime prevention and also for the protection of the rights and freedoms of other persons.