Following a demonstration against police repression in universities in Thessaloniki, police officers were detaining and arresting protesters. A photojournalist photographed a plainclothes police officer pulling a girl by the hair in order to arrest her. When the police officer realised that the incident had been captured on film he shouted at the journalist to delete the pictures immediately. The photojournalist of course refused, at which point his camera was unlawfully seized and he was arrested.
The right to assembly is enshrined in both the Greek Constitution (Article 11) and the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 11). Although the police have the legal authority to attend public gatherings and to disperse them for specific reasons such as a threat to public order, the measures they take must be proportionate. The indiscriminate use of violent means that threaten the life or physical integrity of citizens is illegal in a state that adheres to the rule of law.
In addition, the ability of police officers to use violence is governed by the same guarantees as in any other case, as reflected in the Code of Criminal Procedure (Article 256), Presidential Decree 141/1991 (Article 120), Presidential Decree 254/2004 (Code of Police Ethics) and in the 2005 Circular issued by the Headquarters of the Hellenic Police Force.
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