Spanish police violated the right to peaceful assembly by using disproportionate and “unjustified” force to disperse a spontaneous demonstration in Valladolid in 2014, an action that resulted in permanent injury to a woman, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on Tuesday in Strasbourg.

BACKGROUND

Laguna Guzmán was one of the demonstrators holding the banner Stop the criminalization of social protest and was injured when the police dispersed the concentration. The victim “was beaten with a truncheon and taken to hospital for treatment of her mouth, hand and head injuries”. The Institute of Legal Medicine of Valladolid determined in 2016 her permanent disability, as a consequence of the injuries she suffered.

The Spanish courts rejected the criminal proceedings initiated against the National Police officer who caused the injuries to the protester, arguing that he had to “use force in the face of the situation of violence and disorder”. The process initiated against three demonstrators, which did not include the plaintiff, ended with their absolution in 2018.

Article originally published in Spanish at Publico on 6 October 2020

THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS SENTENCE

“The behaviour of the demonstration and the harmlessness of its slogans and banners did not justify the force used by the police”, stressed the seven judges who signed the judgment, according to which “the method used by the police to disperse the demonstration was not proportionate” and therefore constituted a violation of the freedom of association and assembly enshrined in Article 11 of the European Convention. The Spanish State will have to compensate Laguna Guzmán with EUR 248.10 in costs, as decreed by Strasbourg.

Article originally published in Spanish at El Pais on 6 October 2020

You can read this news in English at The Olive Press