On April 10, 2018, the police issued a statement accusing the organizers of recent protests in Yerevan in violating the law and called for “abstaining from actions that violate the public order”. Putting aside the assessment of the legality of the demonstrators’ actions (taking into account that they were spontaneous to some extent), it should be noted that in these rallies it is the police that violate the legislative requirements.
Was there no police?
Thus, on March 24, April 9 and April 11 the “Reject Serzhe” initiative organized rallies and marches in the centre of Yerevan with the participation of hundreds of people, however these marches were not accompanied by police officers in uniform.
According to Article 32 of the Law on Assemblies, the Police must ensure the presence of its representative at the assemblies. Meanwhile, Article 12 of the RA Law on Police states that “the police must ensure the protection of public order on the streets, in the squares … Police officers shall, while ensuring public order, be obliged to wear a uniform of specified form whereon a distinctive emblem enabling personal identification of police officers shall be affixed in a visible place.”
Meanwhile, there was no single police officer in uniform during rallies on March 24, April 9 and 11. Only police intelligence officers (operative officers) in civilian clothing were present who did not intervene in any way.
Filmed with infringement
Many policemen in civilian clothes, however, were also violating another legal regulation during the rallies. Particularly, with the recent amendments to the Law on Police (Article 22), it was stated that
“When preventing or solving crimes and maintaining public order police officers may use mobile video or photo equipment … The video or photo equipment is attached to the uniform of a police officer, is in the hands of a police officer or is placed in the police vehicle. Provided in the same article, the police officer shall be obliged verbally notify about the non-confidential supervision with video or photo equipment. Video recording, filming and taking photos are carried out only with service/official (non-personal) technical means. ”
Meanwhile, the cameras of the journalists (including ours) have captured the police officers shooting the rally and the participants with their personal mobile phones without warning anyone.
Thus, the police violated not only the Article 22 of the Law on Police, but also the Law on Personal Data, as they were collecting personal information about the demonstrators while filming.