An independent international investigation, conducted by Human Rights Watch, a globally recognised NGO, has concluded that the Spanish police force made “excessive use of force” on the day of the recent referendum in Catalonia. Officers of the Civil Guard and the National Police charged citizens queuing at polling stations to vote, leaving around 900 wounded.
The study analyzed the photos and videos recorded on 1-O and spoke with several witnesses, reaching the conclusion that the force used by police was excessive. “The police might have the law on their side, but that did not give them the right to use violence against peaceful protesters,” argued investigator Kartik Raj.
The Spanish government asserted that police action was justified from the beginning and called it “prudent” and “proportionate”, saying that it followed logically from the illegality of the referendum. So far, only one Spanish government representative, Enric Millo, has spoken to lament the number of injured citizens, however he blamed the government of Carles Puigdemont of Catalonia for having provoked the police action, by calling citizens to vote, whilst ensuring that some polling stations were surrounded by cordons of “activists, the elderly and the disabled”. No other representative of the Spanish government has addressed those affected, although the Spanish executive has spoken out about injured officers, initially stating a dozen officers sustained injuries, but later raising this figure to 400.
The violence captured by the media attracted global attention, and provoked numerous reactions from prominent personalities and important political institutions. The UN and the Council of Europe have since called on the Spanish government to open an impartial investigation into what went on October 1st.
Spain: Police Used Excessive Force in Catalonia https://t.co/0uIOX4typd
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) October 12, 2017