Following the confirmation from the Croatian Ministry of the Interior that the persons visible in the video footage broadcasted by RTL TV network beating migrants at the Croatia-Bosnia border indeed were members of the Croatian police force, Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter reminded that  the monitoring of the ensuing actions by the competent bodies is needed, as this event has opened the legal question of state responsibility for the violations of human rights and the principle of the rule of law.

Due to the fact that the perpetrators have been positively identified as police officers, it is necessary to investigate whether breaches of the provisions of the national law or the international instruments took place, especially those prohibiting torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, state’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as well as those contained in other international legal instrument Croatia is party to.

The positive obligations of the state under these norms and instruments, stresses the Ombudswoman, include not only the prevention of the prohibited behaviors and actions but also active and effective investigations into any allegations that such behaviors took place.

It is crucial that such investigations are conducted by the bodies hierarchically and institutionally independent from those whose actions are the subject of the inquiry, by independent and unbiased investigators and to be run in a manner that can effectively result in the identification and the sanctioning of the persons responsible. Thus, the Ombudswoman welcomes the fact that the State Attorney’s Office is conducting the investigation as an independent institution with the appropriate mandate.

As confirmed in her statements to the media, immediately following the release of the recording in question, the Ombudswoman started her own inquest into the MI’s actions, calling on the Ministry of the Interior and the State Attorney’s Office to duly inform her on the actions taken as well as their outcomes in line with her mandates as the deputy of the Croatian Parliament for the protection and the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.