“Norwegian Police filmed.” Article 3 – Inhuman or Degrading treatment?

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Please visit the page “Norwegian Police Violence and Human Rights” to see the full investigative series of articles on this case.

“The video allegedly was recorded through a window facing the street on May 21, 2013, showing two police officers in civilian clothing apprehending two people, seemingly on suspicion of possession of drugs. During the apprehension, making the apprehended spit out something they were suspected to have in their mouths was given great emphasis.”

– Aslak Syse ,Prof. Dr. Juris, MD

OSLO, NORWAY – At 0945am on the 21st of May 2013, Circus Bazaar became the unlikely custodian of this disheartening material. With my newborn son in my arms, I the Editor stood in shock and filmed as I witnessed a disturbing reality unfold before me. A reality that exposes truths so inconvenient, most barely accept they even exist in Norway.

At this same time, and just over the border, Sweden was in the middle of riots that had become the focus of the international media. The approximate cause of which was a case of perceived police brutality propagated by dissatisfaction with a classless unreality. This environment and the obviously related nature of our newly acquired material gave us reason to pause on its release. Similarly the Norwegian summer and its corresponding period of media non-attention was inappropriate for the release of something we consider so important.

 By our understanding, the actions of the police raise a question of how they relate to the prohibition of inhumane and degrading treatment as according to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), article 3″

– The Norwegian Centre for Human Rights

Circus Bazaar has taken on somewhat of a quest in the past couple of months to unravel the story behind this. The major obstacle being the identification of the faceless man that was subjected to this special treatment. We can only speculate but this man may well have no official identity in Norway and been provided no avenue in which to make a complaint himself. Also from our experience in trying to identify him he has extremely limited chances of having others ensure his rights are protected.

Circus Bazaar recently spoke with the Norwegian Police High School to try to uncover the methods taught to students for conducting mouth searches in relation to the concealment of Narcotics and to investigate what circumstance may possibly justify such treatment. During our conversation they also informed me that they have received a multitude of requests from the Oslo Police in recent times to produce complete explanations for dealing specifically with these issues.

Is it possible that Circus Bazaar’s very public and open enquiry into this matter that started in late May has already contributed to an attempted improvement in Police procedures? If so, Circus Bazaar could not be more pleased.

The Norwegian Police High School openly provided us with the following,

“The Norwegian Police University College does not teach techniques for opening the mouth or removing narcotics from the mouth. The following information is given to the students:

  1. If life is not endangered, the police officer has to consider whether to let the person go or whether to take him to the police cell and place him on a pot.
  2. If it is suspected that life may be in danger, the person shall immediately be brought to the doctor.
  3. If life is endangered and there is no time to bring the person to the doctor, the principle of necessity comes into effect and it is up to the police officer himself to decide on a method to remove the drugs.

It is regarded as disproportionate intervention to force the mouth open by taking a stranglehold or by using a tool to do so, and this would be a breach of Article 6 of the Norwegian Police Law. An exception is, however, made in an act of necessity where the police officer believes that the persons life will be in immediate danger if the officer does not manage to prevent him swallowing the drugs.”

– Politihøgskolen, Avdeling Oslo

Norway Police Brutality Oslo baton

The full unedited piece of Media footage runs for a total of 18 minutes of which to the very end the police continue to search bags, clothes, wallets, shoes and mouths again of the individuals. There is no visible concern for the “immediate danger” necessary to justify such an act and located only 3km from the place of arrest is Norway’s largest hospital, yet no attempt is made to call an ambulance nor urgently transport the individual there.

Speculative as this may be, the casual and workman like nature in which these police operate begs the obvious question, is this part of everyday procedure in the Oslo Police force?

Of course we are not the only organization to ask questions about this event. The Internationally recognized “Norwegian Centre for Human Rights” has provided us with the following statement,

“The National institution makes this statement after having been presented with a private video recording showing police conduct during an arrest in Oslo. The recording is claimed to be recorded on the 21st of May 2013 09:30-10:00. With the reservation that we do not know the details of this particular case, the recording reveals what appears to be serious and disproportional use of force by two ununiformed policemen. Judging by the context, it is hard to understand how the ununiformed policemen’s use of batons in the mouth of the man arrested can be justified as a proportional form of action.

By our understanding, the actions of the police raise questions of the relationship to the prohibition of inhumane and degrading treatment prescribed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), article 3, and the prohibition of a disproportional interference of privacy in article 8. The actions also appear to be a breach of the restrictions the police are subjected to under ordinary Norwegian law.

Based on this, the National institution expects there to be conducted an independent investigation of the circumstances of this incident. We have recommended to the holder of the video recording in question to contact the Norwegian Bureau for the Investigation of Police Affairs. As an extension of such an investigation, the proper authorities should review the general practice of the police when it comes to arrests where one suspects that the concerned has swallowed narcotic substances.”

– The Norwegian Centre for Human Rights

   A separate assessment undertaken by the police’s internal investigation unit to evaluate the human rights aspects – and other legal aspects – in connection with the apprehension in question, would be beneficial..
– Aslak Syse ,Prof. Dr. Juris, MD

Circus Bazaar has also been fortunate enough to discuss this issue with the Director of the Department of Public and International Law at the University of Oslo. Aslak Syse holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree (1971), a Masters Degree in Medicine (1972), a Masters Degree in Law (1988) and a Ph. D. in Law (1996). He also chairs the Norwegian Equality and Anti-discrimination Tribunal. He had this to say,

“I have been asked to assess the lawfulness of the behavior of the police documented by a private video recording.

The video allegedly was recorded through a window facing the street on May 21, 2013, showing two police officers in civilian clothing apprehending two people, seemingly on suspicion of possession of drugs. During the apprehension, making the apprehended spit out something they were suspected to have in their mouths was given great emphasis. There seemed to be suspicion that the mouth was a repository (for whatever substance they were looking for) that should be examined by spitting out, and if this was not sufficient, through an active search of the mouth.

The video appears to document two police officers in civilian clothing trying to ensure spitting out, or alternatively provoking vomiting, by irritating the throat with a baton pressed into the mouth.

The question from a human rights perspective is whether the behaviour of the police is proportional to what they try to accomplish. One of the apprehended was, according to the video, put on the ground with handcuffs, while the rough treatment of his mouth was taking place.

It may appear as if both the law against degrading and inhumane treatment (UCHR art. 3), and the law against the violation of a person’s privacy, have been violated. ECHR demands that police actions are in proportion to what one wishes to achieve (“necessary in a democratic society”).

I am not assessing the lawfulness of the actions based on laws regulating police actions, as violations of civil liberties and rights given through ECHR, in this case ECHR art. 3 and 8, according to human rights laws have precedence over what is considered acceptable means of apprehension in the police law.

A separate assessment undertaken by the police’s internal investigation unit to evaluate the human rights aspects – and other legal aspects – in connection with the apprehension in question, would be beneficial.”

Oslo, September 4, 2013

– Aslak Syse ,Prof. Dr. Juris, MD

Director – Department of Public and International Law, University of Oslo”

In a time in which digital media and surveillance programs by governments the world over have the potential to threaten the liberties of individuals, it is worth taking note that this is a double-edged sword. The individual also has access to the same technology to monitor those that govern us. The fact that this incident just so happened to occur directly outside the front window of a small but established independent publication speaks volumes for the hope that a continued critic and forced public justification of power can exist well into the future.

While they are watching us, we are watching them.

Circus Bazaar would also like to make clear that although operating as a small independent publication with an obviously controversial story is extremely challenging, at no time have we felt under threat or coercion from any institution. It has not been without its let downs but on the whole we have been able to move freely and safely without fear of legal or violent reprisal.

Circus Bazaar will release the full footage of this incident at a later date.

Circus Bazaar will also happily provide the relevant authorities in Norway with a full original copy of the material for the purposes of investigations as outlined by the above statements.

This story could not have been finalized without the support of,

The Norwegian Centre of Human Rights
The Norwegian Police High School
Oslo University and the Department of Public and International Law

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  • AllInS4ne

    Great video! Lets support the drug dealers instead… poor people, they deserve to be treated well! And you, the person who filmed this, you are not helping making the world a better place!

    • Markus

      That is exatly the aditude the germans hade to the jews in ww2 to…
      They dont deserve humaine treatment they are just ratts and so on…
      The fact is that the police are doing something illegal here and if they cant uphold the law, Who will arest them ?
      The police got to jobbs only, that is to arrest criminals and investigate. not jusge ( thats the courts jobb) Not punish them (thats the prisons jobbs) , turture them (thats criminal), not “save” there lives. (that the doctors jobb, on the hospital 2 minutes away with car) So if you can please lett me know what law the cops use here lett me know because nobody here in Norway can…

  • AllInS4ne

    How about collecting evidence, and denying someone to hide illegal substances? I just don`t get you people that want to defend the law breakers, it`s really not heroic! Defend the weak and defenceless… yes! But not those who break the law! They know what they`re doing, and that it`s wrong, this guy will sell cocaine, hasjisj and amfetamin to your 12 year old child, and you feel sorry for the treatment he gets in this video???

    • Markus

      So if i think you have drugs in your mouth i got the right to knock your teth out?
      What evidence is there that this person have broken the law?
      or is it oki to just beat up people regardles of the evidence?
      You are the one defending the law breakers in this case! the cops broke the law!!! that makes them criminals!!! they know what they did was against the law to but still did it…. so if i were there i could grab a baseball batt and smash there head in becuase they deserve it? for beeing criminals? because unless you have a dobble standard here that is what you are saying…

  • AllInS4ne

    Yes, your right.. let`s put the police in prison and let the drug dealers go! Your logic is as if your head is where your ass is and vice versa! Do you think they pick a random guy on the street, put him in hand cuffs and do as in the video? Or do you think they know he is hiding drugs (planning to sell it to fex. kids)? I think they already asked him to give it up… but of course he resists! End of discussion! You just don`t get what is right and wrong! Actually a bat in their face is actually exactly what they deserve! Your kindness is good but given to the wrong kind of person!

    • Markus

      Well there is something called proof…. Heard about it ?
      And you still dont awnser what laws they use ?
      I beleave that there is some thing behind treating everyone like they are inecent until proven guilty. If the police are to dumb to be able to get some pictures of a dealer on the street, aresst one of his custumers and find drugs with fingerprint and then aresst the dealer. They are to dumb and should never have goten a police bage at all! And who gave the cops the right to punish people?

      • Finn Martin Johansen

        Ifølge Legemiddellovens § 31 2. ledd (jf. § 24) kan man straffes med bøter og/eller fengsel inntil 6 måneder for ulovlig besittelse og bruk av narkotika, samt å oppgi falske opplysninger for å få tillatelse (resept) til anskaffelse, innehav og bruk av narkotikaklassifiserte stoffer på lovlig måte.

        Ifølge straffelovens § 162 1. ledd kan man straffes med bøter eller fengsel inntil 2 år for «narkotikaforbrytelse» for å ulovlig tilvirke, innføre, utføre, erverve (dvs. kjøpe eller skaffe seg på annen måte), oppbevare, sende eller overdra narkotika

        «grov narkotikaforbrytelse» kan ifølge paragraf §162 2. ledd straffes med inntil 10 år. Gjelder det en spesielt stor mengde stoff er strafferammen på 3 til 21 års fengsel, ifølge paragrafens 3. ledd

        https://lovdata.no/dokument/SF/forskrift/2013-02-14-199?q=narkotika

        So if i see you breaking into f.ex a car, I have to take a picture of you while you´re doing it to have proof? Maybe the reason why the police stopped these two guys in the video is because some concerned parents called them? Maybe the other guy in the back, the one in handcuffs, already accepted that he was caught selling drugs, and so didn´t resist arrest? Drugdealers deserve all the punishment they can get, and then some! Actually they should be punished every day until they stop selling shit on the streets! And… buhuuu if they get a stick in their mouths!

        • Markus

          You don’t refer to any law that gives the right to that treatment. you refer to the law’s that make a judge able to convict people to jail if it is proof to support the case, and what they deserve is a totally different topic. Because in this case the proof of braking the law is on the cops. Not the guy being assaulted. The courts job is to sett the punishment. And if you would like Norway to become a state were the police are judge jury and executioner maybe you should putt some pressure on the politicians to make Norway a police state. But as long as Norway is a state with human rights and a tree part justice system the cops have to follow the laws that say. Force should only be used if it is imminent danger for persons.

          You don’t have to take a picture of a guy that breaks into a car because he is in the middle of a criminal act. but if you take a picture you got good proof.

          They did never press charges against this guy!!!
          They found no proof! If they would have taken some picture they would have proof and they could arrest him. But arresting don’t mean knocking some teeth out!!

          How is braking the law better than breaking the law?

          Even if this guy have been arrested for dealing before the cops don’t have any law that gives them the right to assault people!

          Please referee me to the laws that give them that right and i will run naked with a carrot sticking out of my ass, down karl johan the next time its 20 minus outside.
          But nobody have ever been able to show me the law. So i am not worried…

  • Gamle Aker

    Shane Alexander Caldwell Around Carl Berner where you and I live. Are there many Africans who sell drugs to youngsters.
    I see kids smoking weed around Sofies Minde. You want this in your neighborhood???

    • Ibby

      Gamle Aker, three small pointers that may help you exist in 2015 not 1943. 1) What you wrote seems slightly racist, if you would like to bring forward a (semblance of a) proper argument you may like to use the phrasing “there are many people who sell drugs to youngsters” as opposed to “there are many Africans who sell drugs to youngsters” 2) If there are more Africans selling drugs, then one has to look a little deeper and ask why society doesn’t give them the chance to work under proper conditions. 3) And most importantly. No human has the right to insert a baton down anyone’s throat who is subdued on the ground. It is not only barbaric and criminal, it is also definable as sexual assault.