Monday 25 October 2021

Amnesty International calls for probe into police Malieveld violence

Riot police detain a man during Sunday’s demo. Photo: John Thys AFP via ANP

The public prosecution department said on Tuesday it is following the police investigation into the use of violence at Sunday’s anti-coronavirus rules demonstration in The Hague closely.

The Hague’s mayor Jan van Zanen ordered the protest to be broken up because far more than the agreed 200 people had come to the Malieveld area near the city’s main railway station. In total, 20 people were arrested.

Several videos circulating on social media show police officers hitting demonstrators about the head with their batons, when they refused to leave the area and at least two people were bitten by police dogs.

Amnesty International has also called for an investigation into the police performance, saying the video footage shows a disproportionate use of violence.

Amnesty called on both The Hague’s mayor Jan van Zanen and the public prosecutor to investigate, but so far only the police probe has been started.

‘The events of Sunday have the attention of the department,’ the public prosecutor said in a statement. ‘It will take several weeks before the facts of the events are clear.’

In addition, people who have a complaint about the police behaviour can make a formal complaint, the department said.

One video, which shows a plain clothes policeman pushing a woman against a van has been widely circulated on social media. The police officer responsible was not aware that the van was approaching, police said on Tuesday.

Police said later on Tuesday they had received six formal reports about police actions during the demonstration, and 120 further complaints.

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