WTO - Investigate police response to protests, Human Rights Watch

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 5 Dec 1999 22:39:17 -0800 (PST)

FWD Human Rights Watch


(New York, December 2, 1999) -- Human Rights Watch today called
on Seattle Mayor Paul Schell and Washington State Governor Gary
Locke to appoint an impartial, independent panel to investigate
the response of law enforcement to this week's protests at the
World Trade Organization (WTO) conference. The panel should
investigate allegations that the police used excessive force and
city officials placed unwarranted restrictions on the rights to
free expression and assembly of peaceful protesters in violation
of constitutional and international standards. If the panel finds
wrongdoing, those responsible for such abuses should be held

Human Rights Watch also condemned the destruction of property
and violent acts by some protesters.

Allegations requiring investigation include claims that:

-police tactics to disperse protests in areas of Seattle outside
the "no demonstration" zone were overly-aggressive. In
particular, police actions on the evening of December 1 in the
Capitol Hill area require investigation. Protesters and residents
report that police used tear gas, concussion bombs, and shot
rubber pellets into crowds, without warning, at a protest
unrelated to the WTO conference. The encounter reportedly began
when a police car drove into a group of protesters.

-the decision by city officials to curtail all protests in the
downtown area, including peaceful ones, may have violated
protesters' right to free expression and assembly. Despite
assurances that they could be present in the area if they did not
block traffic, protesters report that they were not allowed to do

-there were restrictions on detainees' attempting to meet, or
speak by telephone, with public defenders or other legal counsel.

-CS tear gas was sprayed into the faces of protesters who had
chained themselves to objects or were cornered, and thus could
not leave the area as ordered.

-police indiscriminately shot rubber pellets, bullets, or other
projectiles into crowds.

For more information contact:

Mike Jendrzejczyk (240)634-0100, Room 350
Allyson Collins (202) 612-4354
Human Rights Watch
1630 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.,Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009
Tel:(202) 612-4321, Fax:(202) 612-4333


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