Article originally published in French on LDH Belgium – accessible here

In its mission to monitor police violence, the League for Human Rights is launching a campaign to collect testimonies in order to determine whether the rights of the population are respected during the period of confinement. Victims or witnesses of police abuses (unjustified fines, insults, intimidation and threats, beatings, arbitrary arrests, etc.) are invited to testify on www.policewatch.be until the end of the confinement.

In this period of health crisis, the League for Human Rights receives particularly alarming testimonies of police abuse (via its hotline, social networks and through its contacts). Through policewatch.be, the website recently relaunched on police violence observatory, the LDH wishes to deepen its analysis by collecting more testimonies on police abuses. The comparison of the results of this collection of testimonies during the period of confinement with the results obtained outside the health crisis will make it possible to assess to what extent the period of confinement was or was not the occasion of an increase and generalisation of police abuse. The objective of Police Watch is indeed to make abuses visible and objective in order to call on the authorities to change both regulations and practices.

Police Watch has also set itself the task of informing citizens about their rights vis-à-vis the police. The site contains a variety of information for victims and frontline workers as well as the first steps to take in the event of police violence.

In times of crisis, respect for all fundamental rights is essential. The rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is – and remains – not only the framework for the exercise of power but even more so the objective of these measures: the right to life and dignity for all. The health crisis must be tackled in a spirit of solidarity. The police is working in difficult conditions and are responsible for enforcing containment to protect the entire population. However, this reality cannot justify abuses.