May people use self-defence against attacking persons dressed in civilian clothing?
The Movement For Freedom (MFF) addressed the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus concerning the following issue: “Numerous facts of assaults of passers-by by unknown citizens have been registered lately in many cities and towns of the country. Persons dressed in civilian clothing (using rude physical force) seize peaceful citizens and (in some cases beating them) push them into cars, minibuses (often without license plates) or riot police’s transport vehicles. After that, they are brought to police stations, where they are informed of the fact that they are detained as part of an administrative judicial process.”
The MFF thinks that the practice of such detentions in relation to the citizens who are using their right to freedom of speech and to freedom of peaceful meetings:
- contradicts the content of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “No one can be subjected to arbitrary arrest of detention”;
- rudely violates constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens;
- largely deprives citizens of the means of defence and procedural guaranties of fair trial.
In the light of the aforesaid, acting on the basis of the Articles of Association (paragraph 2.1. –“The purpose of the Movement For Freedom human rights advocacy and education non-governmental organisation is to defend the rights and freedoms of citizens, defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and by international instruments on human rights, and to educate citizens in this area”), MFF deputy chairman Yuras Hubarevich addressed the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus on behalf of the organisation with the following questions:
1. What lawful means of defence may peaceful citizens use against unknown persons attacking them?
2. What lawful means of defence may peaceful citizens use in the case when attackers are plain-clothes men who do not abide by the procedure of detention envisaged by the Law when detaining peaceful citizens, and sometimes use physical force or special means?
3. In the case if the detention of peaceful citizens is performed by the police, but if doing so the police unlawfully use physical force or special means, and do not abide by the procedure of detention envisaged by the Law, what lawful means of defence may peaceful citizens use as a response against the knowingly unlawful actions of the police?
These questions were sent through the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ website so far; however, an official written request will be made before long.