COMMUNIQUE: IRÍDIA and OSPDH demand that Circular 2/2021 on mechanical restraints not be modified.
In view of the statements made by the Minister of Justice on the possible modification of Circular 2/2021 on mechanical restraints approved by the previous government only seven months ago, Irídia and the Observatory of the Penal System and Human Rights of the University of Barcelona express our opposition to the reform of the current regulations on restraints and urge the Ministry of Justice and the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya to avoid a regression of rights in this area.
Circular 2/2021 is the result of the adaptation of the Mechanical restraint protocol to the recommendations of human rights organizations, institutions such as the Sindicatura de Agravios, the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture (Ombudsman) and international organizations such as the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe. From the signatory organizations we consider that the modification of the Circular to incorporate the demands of the groups of internal civil servants is a step backwards.
On the other hand, the Department has not made public any diagnosis of the application of the regulations that would justify a regressive change, nor has it corroborated the alleged increase in assaults on civil servants as a result of the application of the aforementioned circular. We consider that any modification of the regulations must be aimed at guaranteeing rights, and in no case should it be linked to promises of improvement in the working conditions of civil servants, such as salaries, which must be articulated through other mechanisms. Thus, we denounce that the Consellería proposes the modification of the Circular in terms of “balance” between the guarantee of the fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty and the potentially legitimate demands of the civil service.
We consider that it is imperative that any modification be made after a longer period of implementation, based on a thorough evaluation and taking into account the position of the Sindicatura de Agravios, human rights organizations and organizations of relatives of people in custody.
Finally, we must recall the conclusions of the reports issued by the Catalan Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture and the Sindicatura de Agravios of 2018, the Ombudsman of 2017, and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe of 2017, 2019 and 2021, in relation to the excessive practice of restraints in prisons. These reports highlight that restraint measures have been applied, in many cases, as a punitive mechanism, prolonged longer than essential and carried out in positions dangerous to the health of individuals. In this context, therefore, Circular 2/2021 has become a guarantee for persons deprived of liberty regarding the correct implementation of restraint measures, which expressly provides that a zero restraint policy must be pursued.