SPAIN – Police violence and crack down on the right to protest  

– Original content by ECF in collaboration with Novact.

Police in Spain have reacted with violence and arrests in recent protests against police aggression (in Linares, Jaen), and the imprisonment of Pablo Hasel (in Spain’s main cities). In the space of a week, these concerning developments represent a crackdown on the fundamental right to protest and freedom of expression in Spain. 

Protesting Police Violence – Linares, Spain 

Following the beating of a man and his 14 year-old daughter by two off-duty police officers in Linares on 12 February, protests were organised on 14 February to condemn thdisproportionate use of police violence. Protesters were met with violence from police who fired rounds of rubber bullets, resulting in two protesters being hospitalised during the weekend. Civil society organisations called out the disproportionate use of force that was observed during some of the arrests, including unjustified use of police batons and use of the batons near minors, and a protestor being knocked unconscious by a rubber bullet and consequently being dragged along the ground and left in a doorway without medical assistance.  

The coalition Defender a Quien Defiendewrote a complaint letter to the Ministry of the Interior, Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Ombudsman to condemn the disproportionate use of police violence and demand accountability as the officers who shot live rounds of rubber bullets are yet to bidentified 

Protesting the Imprisonment of Pablo Hasel – Spain’s main cities 

The imprisonment of rapper Pablo Haselconvicted for the lyrics of his songs and some of the messages in his tweets, which criticise the monarchy and police, sparked protests across Spain’s main cities, including Madrid, Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona on 17 February. Protests were once again met with police violence, including live rounds of rubber bullets. A woman in Barcelona lost her eye as a result of being hit and over 40 people have been detained in the protests in defence of Pablo Hasel and freedom of expression in Spain 

Documenting police violence 

Non-violent action institute, Novact, closely monitored and observed the police in the context of the protestsTheir network includes 70 observers in Barcelona, SomDefensores, who are trained in human rights observation and action protocolsoffering telephone support for detainees and injured people. As part of their observation and monitoring work, Novact is collecting photos or videos from the moment in which the protestor was shot in the eye to investigate the facts and call for accountability.