Legal aid in Europe – How to get out of troubles in the EU!

Are you living or traveling in the European Union?
There are a number of rights that you have which you may not be aware of, I make here a short list of some of these rights and I tell you which are the steps you should make in case of legal issues.

 

It’s your right to film Police

A bruxelles con Alessandra (79).jpg

In the most European countries you have the right to film Police in public, also in the USA it’s allowed.

There are several organization to get informations about your rights for filming Police:

CopBlock.org

Opensocietyfoundations.org

While filming is mostly allowed, once you publish a video, you may want to blur the faces of the policemen.
You should also be aware that if Police is in operation better you keep some distance and discretion while filming, otherwise they may annoy you.

 

How to claim your rights as a human—or a citizen, traveler of tourist—and make a complaint, “press charges”, “make a report”, to institutions and what to do to escalate it to higher hierarchy levels

Whom to contact

– Higher ranks of the same institution (head offices, etc…)

– Ombudsman of the institution

– General Attorney (if is about Police)

– Regional ombudsman

– National ombudsman

– Traveler rights associations

– Human rights associations

– European ombudsman

– European commission

– European Parliament

– European President
(for extremely serious matters)

In parallel of this you could contact a local lawyer (via hg.org for example) or the local court if applicable.

FireWorks Atomium - Brussels

INFORMATIONS

e-justice.europa.eu provides useful and update informations about your rights in EU.

VisaHQ.com offers services and data about visas

 

FOR HOMELESS

Feantsa, European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless

 

FOR URGENT IMPORTANT MATTERS, PHONE NUMBERS

– Call your Consulate

– Emergency Support Aid International Human Rights line +353 1 21 00 489

Amnesty International +44-20-74135500

 

HELP FROM ONLINE COMMUNITIES

Don’t forget that you can always ask for help through any of these online communities:

And, why not, Facebook.

Do you have any information that I missed in this list? Please comment!

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Getting assaulted in the streets of Santo Domingo

Five persons sitting on a square table playing domino,

Going on a bicycle as much as I can, unfortunately, I can’t cycle on water, therefore in some special circumstances, I still have to use other transportation means.

Front part of the right wing of a passenger airplane with clouds and blue sky

The view from an airplane shows you a perfect world, the small cars all going their pattern, all the perfectly aligned lights.  It seems to be a world that does not contain anything harmful, it shows as everything good is going on, you would never think people would be killing each, being in wars, doing abuse and commit a crime, in such a beautiful, round world.
Maybe this is also the vision of “god”, everything appears perfect to him, that’s why he does not intervene.
Maybe his sight degraded with time, as did mine.

 

THE LESS EDUCATION THE MORE DEGRADATION;

It’s independence day, a big celebration in the Dominican capital because it’s more than one century since the separation from Haiti.
Carnival shows and army parade are organized: helicopters, airplanes, fireworks; All that money spent—a euphemism, to not say wasted—for fun, could be used in social, education and health care. Here they really need these last three things.

I walk, as always, in a historical area, it’s inside the ‘Zona colonial’, which is one of the few safe areas here, that’s why I discretely take out my device to record an old woman sleeping in the street. Unfortunately many, old and young, sleep in the streets in this country.
I walk few hundred meters, suddenly, I am pushed and pulled from a group of about five or six teenagers, they are trying to steal my phone. I defend myself holding the hand of one boy.
I am quite unprepared, I didn’t expect it to happen right there, but I do manage to put one hand in my pocket to protect the smartphone and keep them away with my legs.
I try to talk to them, attempting to calm down the situation, telling that I could give them some money but I really need the phone and I can’t afford to lose it.
They don’t really listen and attempt to punch me, I shout to attract the attention of nearby people, it’s a central area and there are cars passing by, but nobody helps.

A man walking with a gun in the Santo Domingo
After short, I see a man with a gun pointing straight to my face as he would fire, I put my hands up, trying to calm him down. I notice the boys starting to run away; I see a policeman in uniform taking his gun and pointing at those kids; I tell him not to fire.
I find out that the first man with the gun was a policeman too, the touristic police station “Cestur” was just in front of me.
My shirt is broken, my arm bleeds but nothing was stolen. I thank the police and I go to do the report.
I meet ‘el Coronel’, I tell him what I think: “I appreciate your work; all this happened not because there is not enough police: we need here less punishment and more education for the kids”.
He tells me to come back the day after, I don’t know why.

To avoid any risk, from now on I put the phone in my underwear. This created the situation where I thought I lost my phone and was searching for it for hours, while it so was deep in my pants that I had forgotten about it.

A red coca cola truck in street traffic

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE CARIBBEAN’S COUNTRIES AND THE USA

How different is the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico?

Long traveling still didn’t make me master politics about all the countries: before arriving in San Juan, I actually didn’t even know it was part of US, I discovered it when I had to make my travel documents.

Among the Puerto Ricans, there is a strong feeling of being independent of USA, for sure the more politically involved ones have it, but at the same time, after 100 years of Politically  belonging to the US, there are many North American habits that are so strong now in PR that I would be really curious to know if Puerto-Ricans could get rid of it. Things such as driving with big cars, consumeristic mentality, and money based society.

A poster on a light pole: a soldier shoe with the USA flag stepping on the PR flag

Consequently, I wonder how Puerto Rico would have been without the US, or, how would the Dominican Republic have been now belonging to the US?
Anyhow the US still comes here to suck resources, with Coca Cola, McDonald’s and various other multinational.

 

I GET ROBBED IN THE WEALTHIEST COUNTRIES

As you have read above, I was assaulted in the Dominican Republic but ultimately, nobody stole anything from me.

Do you want to know where I did get my stuff stolen?
I got stolen in the richest places of the world: Copenhagen and Helsinki.
In two different situations, my bag was stolen, in Copenhagen, it was taken away from between my feet!
But this is another story…

A police car in the sidewalk of San Juan in PR

So, what about you? Where have you got robbed?
Share your story!

Cycling naked into the world’s most radioactive area: Chernobyl

Wooden bridge with slit in the middle

Cycling through the Radioactive area of Chernobyl and ghost towns

I start cycling from Minsk and I go south to Ukraine, I pass nearby Chernobyl: Naroulia–one of the most radio-contaminated city of the world–, the Radioecological reserve Polesky and the nuclear ghost town of Poliske (Ukraine), which is between two military checkpoints.
Many dangers on the way, but the radioactivity pollution is not the biggest.
The Belarusian army, police, wild animals, falling apart bridges, injuries and even lack of drinkable water was what made the cycling challenging.

LUKASHENKO

It’s like an authoritarian father, not allowing his children to do anything he does not like them to do.
I feel it from his army and police, so close minded and standardized.

THE HIERARCHIC WRONG FAIRYTALE OF CINDERELLA

Belarus make me think of fairytales.
Children’s stories that can make kids adults heroes, or just robots, depending on the content of the narration.
Let’s take Cinderella as example, an apparent nice story.
But there is a manipulative teaching: kids learning that a prince or a king is more important than a common person.
Cinderella wants to get out of her poverty through marrying a prince. This is not just sexisst but higly hierarchic and non meritocratic.

If there would be no prince there would be no poor ladies like Cinderella.

GETTING INTO TROUBLES WITH BELARUSIAN ARMY

To take a shortcut, I go through the forest, crossing a falling apart bridge I see a strange field in front of me: it’s not forest, neither cultivated, on the map is shown just as a gray area. I go into it to cross it.
I see big holes on the ground and I have a strange feeling.

All the patterns marked on the map don’t match the real path and I am stuck in this place. I decide to camp there for the night, feeling a bit worried.

During the night I hear trucks passing, I look more carefully out of the tend and I spot a destroyed war tank far from me.
I start thinking I may be somewhere where I should not be!

In the morning I am awaken by a big military truck passing, a soldier with three stars on is jackets comes out of it, telling me, ‘almost friendly’, that I am in a military exercitation camp, where they are shooting with fantery and heavy weapons. He tells me to leave asap.
I thank him and I leave, I think that he was quite kind to have just told me to leave without even asking who I am.

After two kilometers there is a checkpoint, with soldiers and the man I spoke previously was there waiting for me, he politely tells me that I have to be interrogated.

I am ready for interrogation and I am quite happy to be alive, not aware that the interrogation will lasts seven hours and I am asked about EVERYTHING.
They check all my stuff, included my private pictures on my phone, emails, facebook and all you can find on my google account.
The find some naked pictures of me, where I promote Cyclonudista, and tell me that pornography is illegal in Belarus, I tell them that that’s just my body as I was born.

At the end I am told that a truck will come to pick me up and bring me “on the right way…”.


After another half hour a truck comes, I am helped to get inside of it with my bicycle, there are soldiers with weapons in it.
I am not able to see outside, it’s dark and I am about to vomit for the shaking and the dust.
I can now understand a little what animals in cages feel when they are transported from one place to another, I understand why many of them die on the way. I almost wished to die myself on that truck.
I am worried and paranoid, I think  that they would harm or even kill me. They seem too kind to be true.
The truck stops, the same people who inspected me open the door from outside and I am free, for real.
Never felt better in my life.

DOGS AND WILD ANIMALS ON THE WAY

In the tent I clearly hear wolves, I am ready with pepper spray and a metal stick–a detached handlebar–to fight, but luckily they don’t come too near.
Dogs are barking to the wolves all night long. What to know what I think about dogs?
Dogs are the most evident example of human insatisfaction.

I see a farm in front of me, I see people kicking and pulling cows as they are pieces of

EVEN IMPORTANT THINGS ARE EASY TO FORGET

When we change from different situations we can forget really fast, and deeply. We may easily forget all the struggle we were in before, if we are suddenly in a more comfortable situation.
The ones of us with memory for the sad past, the ones that remember also the bad times of others around, the persons that have this sensibility, those are our heroes, those are the ones to whom we have to be grateful.


YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND

When you have a home, you can’t understand homelessness.
When you have a full belly, you can’t understand the hungry one.
When you are healthy, you can understand pain.

I also don’t understand how I am able to cycle: just one week before starting, I do a wrong movement and my back gets blocked, people need to pull me up and lift me for about three days in order to let me move.
My right eye has some loss of sharpness; while cycling I fall down, I hurt my hand and I am not able to use it for all the rest of the trip… But this didn’t stop me.


USSR AND COMMUNISM – UKRAINE OPEN TO EU

Kiev is much different than Minsk or Riga, which both give me USSR, anti western, pro-Putin feeling.

I was more keen to like the Soviet Union before my trips to the Baltics, Belarus and Ukraine.
After the seeing huge economic and social differences even in Belarus, which is the only country in the world that continues on the USSR regime, I am not sure I like this kind of communism. I would not even call it communism, but dictatorship.

I have noticed that freedom of speech is unknown in Belarus, the country is ruled by police with little-no personal liberty.


I would say that among ex-USSR countries, Ukraine is the most open and EU-oriented country, even if there is a long way to go.
While Latvia was the most unfriendly country for western people.

TRAVEL COMPANION

I mostly travel alone because I am often disappointed by travel companions. Some of them pretend to be lovers, but are much better than expected as traveling companionship, much worse than expected as lover.

WAR IN UKRAINE

What’s the difference between a detainee and a soldier?
The only difference is that the soldier can let out his hunger and frustration freely on other people.


EUROPEANS SHOULD LEARN FROM UKRAINIANS

In Ukraine people is not smiling all the times, sometimes they give you the impression of unhappiness. Except this, I have experienced great manners, honesty and really friendly attitude.
Things work well here, public services are smooth and internet is really fast and cheap.

The subway in Kiev works extremely efficiently, it’s clean and everyone is perfectly well educated to stand up from their seats for an older person. The same in the tram, trolley bus and minibus.

Walking at night, even in really dark areas, is totally safe. Nobody bothers you even if is clear that you are a foreigner. 

Police and army people are friendly. They are working hard and will not bother you, in south europe (especially in Italy) this is not the case.

I never felt unsafe or threatened here ,  to be sincere I felt much better that in many European capitals.