The legislative powers of the police to stop individuals

Police stops are regulated by the Act 171/1993 Coll. on Police Force. Several paragraphs describe the circumstances in which the police can stop and search individuals (e.g.: Authority to Stop and Search Conveyances; Authority while Safeguarding Designated Persons; Authority to Close Places Open to Public etc.). Most often, stop and search is understood as a police officer’s authority to ensure that the person with whom they conduct an official intervention is not carrying a weapon, and to disarm that person if they are armed. Since official intervention impacts on an important area of the Constitution-guaranteed rights and freedoms of the individual, a police officer cannot perform an official intervention whenever. The provision of § 9 par. 1 of the Act on the Police Force, clearly obliges an on-duty police officer to carry out an official intervention within the limits of this law if an offense or infringement is suspected of being committed. In no case can a police officer carry out a security search without carrying out an official interven-tion, that is, just for the sake of prevention and not for the purpose of searching for other things, e.g. narcotic and psychotropic substances. In this context, it is also necessary to emphasise the prohibition to force a person to contribute to their own accusation or conviction. This means not only a prohibition to force a suspected or accused person to confess, but also a prohibition to force such a person to cooperate in order to con-vict the person, such as a prohibition on forcing the suspect to “voluntarily” give items or empty things from pockets, even things that can link them to a crime.

Another frequent case for stopping a person by the police is requesting proof of identity. Every citizen who has reached the age of 15 and has a permanent residence in the Slovak Republic is obliged to have an ID card. However, no one is obliged to keep their ID on their person at all times. The legal basis for a police officer’s right to request a person to prove their identity is in Section 18 of the Police Force Act. According to para. 1 of this provision, “a police officer shall be entitled to request a person to do so if it is necessary to fulfil their duties under this Act to prove their identity.” In police practice, however, that authorisation appears to be somewhat wider than it really is. Many police officers interpret this as per-mitting them to request a person prove their identity, but the most important phrase is “if necessary to perform the tasks under this law” that can be described as a material presumption of enforcement identity.

Exercise of a police officer’s authorisation under Section 18 of the Police Force Act is quite often in practice purely formalist, not respecting the material conditions of this provision, thereby abusing the authority of a public official. At the same time, a police officer’s formal approach to ex-ercising their authorisation is not exceptional in police practice. For most people, the obligation to prove their identity and the corresponding po-lice authorisation is perceived as a common, everyday matter in the activities of the Police Force, which does not restrict them in any way. Howev-er, from the point of view of law, it should be borne in mind that by exercising their authority to request a person to prove their identity, a police officer is interfering with that person’s fundamental rights and freedoms, i.e. it is an official intervention.

The obligation to register stops

The police are obliged to register stop and search or identity checks in their internal database, which is not publicly available. There are no publicly available statistics on stop and search, though some data might be available on request. The rules for registration are not regulated by any law but by an internal directive which again cannot be accessed by members of the public.

Legislation procedures which protect citizens from police offences

Act no. 9/2010 Coll. on complaints states that all departments of the Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic, organisations and facilities within their jurisdiction, regional directorates of the Police Force, district directorates of the Police Force, district departments of the Police Force, departments of the Immigration Police of the Police Force are obliged to receive complaints. The complaint is dealt with by the competent public authority responsible for the activity which the complainant considers to be infringing their rights or interests protected by law.

Complaints against the members of Police Force are registered and handled by the Department of Control and Inspection Service (DCIS) of the Ministry of Interior. The DCIS is a separate unit of the Ministry reporting directly to the Minister of the Interior. Individuals can complain by email, phone, on-line or in person.


Annotated bibliography on Slovakia