The Protector of Citizens ascertained that police officers in Belgrade, Niš and Novi Sad, due to untimely and inefficient handling of citizens' reports, did not establish the identity or consider the existence of the grounds for pressing misdemeanor charges against individuals who were gathering on the rooftops of buildings during the state of emergency and recommended initiating disciplinary proceedings against police officers who were in charge of dealing with citizens' reports.
In the recommendations for rectifying omissions in the work, the Protector of Citizens asked the Ministry of Interior (MOI) of Serbia to take all necessary measures so that police officers in future work take all necessary actions in a timely manner in order to establish public order and peace (go to the scene, identify the perpetrators of misdemeanors, submit requests to initiate misdemeanor proceedings if there are grounds).
The police administrations of the Ministry of Interior in Belgrade, Niš and Novi Sad should conduct disciplinary proceedings against police officers who were in charge of dealing with citizens' reports of gathering of unknown individuals on the rooftops of residential buildings from 29 April 2020 to 3 May 2020, in order to determine whether they committed any of the severe violations of working obligations under Article 207 of the Law on Police in acting upon the above-mentioned reports, the Protector of Citizens stated.
The Protector of Citizens stated that MOI would take care that similar omissions would not occur in acting upon citizens' reports with a view to preventing the commission of misdemeanors and sanctioning accountable persons, and asked this ministry to inform him of the outcome of the initiated disciplinary proceedings, as well as on the undertaken measures no later than 60 days.
In the own-initiative investigation initiated following media reports, the Protector of Citizens determined that the police officers in these three cities did not act upon the reports filed by the citizens from 29 April 2020 to 3 May 2020, failed to prevent the gathering of individuals on the rooftops of residential buildings that used pyrotechnic devices (torches, firecrackers), at a time when the ban on movement in public places was in force.
The Protector of Citizens ascertained that, due to the aforementioned omissions in the work of the police, the identity of persons who potentially violated public order and peace, regulated by the Law on Public Order and Peace, as well as those who violated the ban on movement during a state of emergency, prescribed by the Decree on State of Emergency Measures, remained undetermined.
The Protector of Citizens ascertained that the repercussion of such actions of police officers was the danger of disturbing public order and peace in the mentioned period, and that the efficient application of Government of Serbia’s measures to suppress and curb the spread of the contagious disease Covid-19 and protect the population was challenged.