Institutional violence up in Catalonia, says human rights group
Irídia documents 80 cases since January, half related to protests following Puigdemont arrest
Institutional violence rose in Catalonia in the first months of the year amid renewed political tensions in the country, reports the Irídia human rights group. Police violence and freedom of assembly violations account for a majority of the incidents reported.
Irídia’s Service for Handling and Reporting Cases of Institutional Violence (SAIDAVI) documented 80 cases in Barcelona and its surroundings since the beginning of the year. Half of them occurred in the last weekend of March, when the detention of the deposed president Carles Puigdemont in Germany prompted a wave of protests.
Figures show an increase from 2017, when 52 cases were reported throughout the year, excluding those related to the October 1 independence vote. On referendum day, the ‘Som Defensores’ platform attended 94 alleged victims of police violence. In the days that followed, almost 300 people contacted the organization to report abuses.
Irídia is an association that works for the defense of human rights in Catalonia, specifically focused on civil and political rights. It combines direct intervention in situations of violations of human rights with the development of social and political advocacy processes that aim to promote change in public policy.
Reports on institutional violence: filling the gap
SAIDAVI says it aims to “fill the gap” left by a lack of investigations by the authorities into reports of institutional violence on behalf of police, prison guards and employees of migrant detention centres. The organization says it also aims to identify the most representative cases of violence and take them to court, while also assisting victims to find evidence for their claims of abuse.
Among Saidavi recommendations and demands is for the authorities to set up mediation mechanisms with the police to quickly resolve accusations of violent abuse.
The organization also demands that riot police, like those during the October 1 referendum, wear identification numbers on their vests and helmets rather than just on their backs, as they do now. One of the most common complaints by those injured on October 1 is a feeling of “impotence” due to the lack of visual evidence for their claims and the difficulty of identifying the officers they claim assaulted them.