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Spain: Amnesty campaigns over impunity for police violence

Amnesty International has delivered more than 60,000 signatures to the Interior Ministry to demand an end to police impunity over abuses committed against peaceful demonstrators during last year’s anti-austerity protests.

The human rights organization produced a report in October into policing of protests across Europe in which people were beaten and kicked, sprayed with tear gas and injured by rubber bullets. It was particularly damning of Spain.

These human rights violations ‘have not had a robust response from the authorities’, Amnesty says, which  launched an online action in order to ‘end impunity that surrounds many of the cases and to respect the right to peaceful demonstrations’.

Amnesty International collected more than 60,000 signatures and delivered them earlier this week to the Ministry of Interior, requesting a meeting with officials from the Ministry to address these issues.

Says Amnesty:

‘Officials responsible for enforcing the law have a duty to avoid or minimize the use of force and all times should apply the criteria of proportionality and necessity in the exercise of their functions. This has not happened in Spain during demonstrations in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, to name only three examples in the past two years. Especially noteworthy is the episode that occurred on the night of September 25, 2012, following the announcement that called on people to “Surround Congress”, at the Atocha station in Madrid.’

Images from this event ‘show how police beat indiscriminately, without distinguishing between travellers and potential demonstrators, posing a serious risk to travellers’.

Amnesty also documented how when the victims reported the assaults there was no support from the authorities. Claims for excessive use of force by the police were not investigated properly and, therefore, those responsible went unpunished.

Furthermore, in cases where investigations were launched, complaints were often archived because the investigators they were unable to identify the officers involved. This failure, Amnesty points out, is central to fighting against impunity, as it is mandatory to have personal identification numbers on the uniforms of the police and state security forces, according to various standards, including the instruction of the Ministry of the Interior 13/2007 .

January 24, 2013

Amnesty International

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Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope


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