Report on institutional violence 2023 Report on institutional violence 2023


Report on institutional violence 2023

#Institutional violence#SAIDAVI

The Service of Attention and Denunciation in situations of Institutional Violence (SAIDAVI) is Irídia's free service that offers legal and psychosocial assistance to people who have suffered torture and/or mistreatment in Catalonia by agents of the security forces and corps, prison officers or private security agents, when they act by delegation of security functions that are public competence.
During the year 2023, 146 people have turned to SAIDAVI to denounce alleged human rights violations.

Informe sobre violència institucional 2023 SAIDAVI

Download the full report here.

During 2023, 146 people approached SAIDAVI to report alleged human rights violations. Of this total, 55 individuals and 2 groups have suffered institutional violence and their cases fell within the Service’s scope of action; the rest, when appropriate, have been referred to other entities or services that could support them.

Thus, in 2023, Irídia acted as prosecutor in 56 lawsuits: 49 are still open and 7 have ended. For these litigations, there are a total of 156 agents or officers indicted in criminal proceedings. Specifically, there are 82 investigated, of which 34 belong to the Mossos d’Esquadra police force, 12 to the National Police force, 19 are local police officers, 10 are prison officers and 7 are private security guards. Likewise, 74 agents have already been charged and are awaiting trial or are in the process of filing indictments against them.

In 20 of the 49 open cases, there is a component of racism, either because there is explicit verbalization, or because the manner in which the police action was carried out is racist, or because the events occurred in a context of institutional racism. This is in 40.81% of the cases, indicating an increase with respect to the previous year, when the racism component was identified in 33.33% of the cases.

This year the report focuses on showing and analyzing the shortcomings of the control mechanisms of the police and security forces detected, focusing on internal mechanisms (specifically the identification of agents, the hierarchical superior, and internal investigations). It also includes, however, shortcomings in the role of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the role of the Courts and Tribunals as external control mechanisms (including obstacles to legal assistance, slow procedures, deportations and the Istanbul Protocols). The absence or lack of these mechanisms is at the root of impunity.

With respect to internal mechanisms, we found some very worrying figures. On the one hand, despite the fact that the regulation requiring the identification of officers with a visible NOP number is already in force, between September and December 2023, at least 8 times it has been observed that, during the course of a social mobilization, a significant majority of the officers of the Mossos d’Esquadra Corps (PG-ME) deployed on the public highway were not properly identified. The fact that police officers performing public order functions or acting in these contexts do not wear their NOP or TIP is a serious breach of the regulations in force and makes it impossible to identify the agents, which is one of the main causes of impunity.

On the other hand, the role of hierarchical superiors is one of the main internal control mechanisms of the police: the failure to perform their oversight and control tasks makes accountability very difficult, leading in many cases to the fact that the judicial investigation cannot succeed because the specific agent who has carried out the conduct constituting a crime is not identified. This is precisely the reality that Irídia encounters in the proceedings for institutional violence by FCS. In fact, in none of the 37 lawsuits against FCS agents has the superior officer identified the perpetrator. Moreover, there is no record of any of the cases in which an ex officio internal investigation was initiated as a result of a communication or report from the superior officer. In short, the hierarchical superiors not only do not exercise their legally mandated control functions, but also act as “defenders” of the officers under criminal investigation or trial.

Finally, an essential component in the area of internal police oversight is the very divisions within police forces for the investigation and sanctioning of police malpractice in an impartial, timely and thorough manner. Of the 37 ongoing FCS litigations during 2023, in only 13 cases has any type of investigation been conducted through internal investigative mechanisms. Of these, only 4 have been initiated ex officio, the rest have been done by court order. In 12 of the investigations it was concluded that the perpetrator could not be identified or that there was no criminal conduct, and only 1 was found to meet the minimum requirements of sufficiency and effectiveness by identifying the facts and perpetrators.

It is of particular concern that, in 10 of the cases, the internal investigation has focused more on the conduct of the complainant, making pejorative assessments, than on that of the officer complained of. In addition, in only 1 of the cases is it recorded that precautionary measures have been taken in the framework of an internal disciplinary procedure, while the investigation is being carried out

In short, the internal investigation mechanisms of the police forces are absolutely insufficient and ineffective, even when the use of force is carried out through highly injurious, potentially lethal weapons and the use of which is protocolized. We will be attentive to identify if the restructuring of the General Directorate of Police carried out in 2023 results in an improvement in the internal investigation mechanisms of the Police of the Generalitat – Mossos d’Esquadra.

In the report of this 2023, a paràdigmatic case stands out, that of the death of A. C due to the 6 electric shocks of a Taser gun applied to him by Mossos d’Esquadra agents. The case is an example of how, even in a police action resulting in death, there is a lack of control by superiors and a deficient internal police investigation. It also shows how these shortcomings in the internal mechanisms have a real impact on the right to justice and reparation of the affected persons, even implying the closure of a criminal investigation without having carried out the minimum investigative procedures. These shortcomings also translate into the fact that the family members do not have answers, accompaniment or any reparation from those responsible or the administration, even after more than 2 years since Antonio’s death.

It is also important to highlight the good practices of the administration. This year we must highlight the publication of the weapons and police tools used by the Mossos d’Esquadra on the institution’s website, and the Modification of the Protocol for the use of 40mm launchers and their projectiles (foam), thanks to the joint work of Irídia and Amnesty International Catalonia. Among the revisions, the distance at which the SIR-X projectile can be fired is modified from 20 meters to 30; the prohibition of firing above the abdomen in all cases is agreed; the use of foam launchers is restricted to cases in which there are “objective circumstances of risk to life or physical integrity”; and foam launchers cannot be used to disperse demonstrations or crowds of people.

In addition, the new Prosecutor of the room of democratic memory and human rights, Dolores Delgado, requested the admission of the complaint filed by Carles Vallejo for the torture suffered at the police station of Via Laietana, 43 in 1971. This position is a step forward for justice and the fight against impunity for the crimes of the dictatorship. Also, the Parliament of Catalonia has created a commission of investigation on the cases of espionage by Pegasus in the Spanish State and the Commission of Investigation on the Infiltration of Police of the Police Corps of the Spanish State in Social, Political and Popular Movements throughout the country.

Finally, we set out several recommendations addressed to both institutions and the different administrations, the main one of which is the creation of an independent mechanism of control of the police. Likewise, we reiterate the need to repeal the Gag Law, especially to eliminate the sanctions for publishing images of the security forces and bodies, the infractions that criminalize the right to protest and the “hot returns” or to modify the Law on Foreigners so that the existence of Centers for the Internment of Foreigners is abolished or a regularization process is opened. In addition, we demand from the State Government the prohibition of the use of rubber bullets and the identification of police officers from 360 degrees (front, back and helmet), among other recommendations. Finally, we request an end to identifications by ethnic-racial profile and the introduction of measures such as stop forms, as the Parliament of Catalonia agreed in the conclusions of the Commission for the Study of the Police Model.