ALERT SPAIN/CATALONIA – The Use of Violence Does Not Solve but Aggravates the Situation

Alerts, Europe, Shrinking Space for Civil Society, Spain

EuroMed Rights condemns police violence by National Police and Civil Guard officers against peaceful demonstrators in Catalonia on Sunday 1 October on the margin of a referendum, initiated by the Catalonian Parliament while its application decrees were suspended by the Constitutional Court. EuroMed Rights does not take side with either parts but we believe that the demand for the independence should not be criminalised.

Ahead of today’s plenary debate in the European Parliament, we urge the Members of the European Parliament to clearly condemn all forms of violence and support dialogue between the parts. At the same time we call on European leaders to stand against violence and make every possible effort to support a negotiated solution to the conflict in order to avoid further escalation of violence.

Number of people injured differ according to national or regional officials, respectively reporting of 33 police officers and around 900 people attended by medical services. EuroMed Rights recalls Spanish authorities their duty to guarantee and protect its citizen’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in all circumstances and in compliance with their international commitments.

EuroMed Rights stands behind the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s call on Spanish authorities to accept without delay the requests by relevant UN human rights experts to visit the country. All efforts towards promptly opening thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all forms of police violence should be supported; results of these investigations should be transparently made public.

In 2015, EuroMed Rights condemned the adoption of the Basic Law for the Protection of Public Security as being a threat to basic human rights such as the freedoms of expression and assembly. Under this law, the dissemination of images of the police officers and state security bodies is considered a “serious offence”, which could hinder the documentation of abuses committed by law enforcement personnel and reinforce impunity.

EuroMed Rights stresses the importance of engaging in a genuine political dialogue between both parties to preserve coexistence in respect of plurality.