[dropcap size=big]O[/dropcap]slo, Norway. Circus Bazaar published the above footage of Norwegian Police in civilian clothing using ASP Batons on a mans oral cavity suspected of swallowing a controlled substance. The incident occurred in full public view at 09:45 am on the 21st of May 2013 on a small street in Oslo. In the same article we published controversial statements from the Norwegian Center of Human Rights and Oslo University’s Director of Public and International Law. These statements raised the question of how this conduct related to the European Convention on Human Rights Article 3 and 8 or prohibition on “Inhuman and Degrading Treatment” and “Privacy” respectively.
Circus Bazaar asked the question of the whether this was part of everyday procedure in Oslo police force? This is still an obvious as it is important question for three reasons,
There now is contradictions in the police response on this issue.
The second man involved appears to have been intimidated with a baton for the same reason several minutes after the first.
The very casual nature in which this special treatment was conducted may suggest that in the minds of the police this was not a point of controversy to perform this in a public street.
The Norwegian police website has edited their original statement concerning this event on a specific fact related to our question.
On the 9th of Sept 2013 the police issued a statement concerning this controversial event (see right) that stated that the use of the baton in this way should not occur and that a notification had been issued stating,
“this practice should cease immediately”
The reference to this as a “practice” and that this should “cease immediately” raises questions regarding whether this “method” or “practice” was something that occurred with some level of frequency.
Take into consideration that this has been described in relation to the ‘absolute prohibition’ on inflicting “Inhuman and Degrading Treatment” under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights. This makes the issue of whether the Norwegian Police may possibly have been, by virtue of this as a practice, in violation of some very serious international legal standards and needs clarification.
Complicating the issue further is the fact that 9 days later the Police edited this statement with no apparent reference to the origional.
With the date of modification available we can see that this was exactly 61 minutes after the Norwegian News platform Nettivisen released a report concerning the event. It can now be seen in the screen shot (See right) that the text has now been altered to what now seems in contradiction to the original of the same statement. When at first it was referred to as a “practice that shall cease immediately” it is now referred to as a,
“method that is not allowed”
Unfamiliar with the general standards of how the Norwegian Police communicate information on topics as sensitive as this, we found it prudent to consult the University of Oslo´s ‘Director of Public and International Law’ Aslak Syse to get his view on the editing, the apparent contradiction and its implications with regard to the specific case. He stated,
“I think this is unproblematic; this is how our Dept. changes the web-site if anything may be misunderstood. However, this specific change might in some way signal that this was an established practise before claryfing that the said practise is against the law.”
This confusion is compounded by what it seems as the police threatening the second man in the film with treatment to his mouth with the Police Baton. This occurs in the remainder of the film that is still yet to be released.
It shows that once the controversial treatment was complete on the first man, there was an attempt to put the police batons back into the police car. This was then interupted by one of the officers whom then once again took possession of a baton and then moved to approach the other suspect. On approach this officer gestures to the man with the Baton and upon arriving in front of the man continues to gesture again using the Baton.
Keeping in mind that this ‘handcuffed’ man has just had to witnessed the controversial treatment of the first individual, he then, as an apparent result of these gestures, attempts to show that he does not have anything in his oral cavity by coughing, spitting and opening his mouth.
Currently this case has been handed to the “Norwegian Bureau for the investigation of Police Affairs“. This is the Norwegian “independent body that falls administratively under the Ministry of Justice and professionally under the Director of Public Prosecutions” and are responsible for questions “of whether a person serving in the police or prosecuting authorities has committed a criminal offence in the service.”
That this is a spur of the moment, creative impulse on behalf of a team of Civilian Police to make use of Police Batons in the oral cavity in public to attempt to solve the “relatively common problem” of concealment, although possible seems open to public questioning. From both the photos and film we can now deduce that at least two people have either been subjected to, or ‘potentially’ intimidated with this method formerly known as a practice. Considering this, the contradictory statements and the broader Human Rights consequences of this being more a than just a “two time” event, there is a much needed public clarification on this matter.
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