THE LATEST report from Amnesty International on Spain is calling for the government to ban the use by police of rubber bullets, which it considers to be too dangerous.
According to the document from the human-rights NGO, titled “The right to protest in Spain”, these projectiles have a “high risk of hitting particularly vulnerable parts of the body, in particular the eyes”.
According to a report cited by Spanish daily El País, 26 people were affected by rubber-bullet impacts in Spain between the year 2000 and 2020. That figure includes football fan Íñigo Cabacas, who died after being hit by one of the projectiles.
The Amnesty International report also included the testimony of journalist Bernat Vilaró, who was hit in the neck by a rubber bullet while covering disturbances in Barcelona in 2019. He was told by doctors that if he hadn’t been wearing a gas mask at the time, he would have died from the impact.
Amnesty also criticises the use by police officers in Spain of their batons, on the basis that it is “unnecessary or excessive”.
The report comes at a time when the coalition government – led by the Socialist Party and backed by junior partner Unidas Podemos – is negotiating reforms to Spain’s so-called “gag law”.
The controversial legislation, whose real name is the “Citizens Security Law”, was introduced in 2015 by the conservative Popular Party at a time of rising social unrest due to the economic crisis and political corruption, and introduced limits on demonstrations, a ban on taking photos of police officers and fines for not respecting or disobeying police.
The Amnesty report argues that the gag law as well as reforms to the Criminal Code have curbed the right to free expression in Spain as well as to peaceful protest.
The NGO created the report on the basis of interviews with activists, journalists and demonstrators, as well as with the Interior Ministry.
The conclusions of the report, according to Spanish online daily El Diario, are that Spain requires a “change in legislative, operational and judicial direction” in order to come in line with the “international standards of human rights”.
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