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Observers and experts speak out against police violence and in favor of dialogue

Dutch diplomat in Catalonia on October 1: ‘Obama or Koffi Annan could mediate’


05 October 2017 01:17 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Experts in human rights from the United Nations and world-class NGOs such as Amnesty International have noted there were serious human rights violations on Sunday by the Spanish police. This rejection of violence has been accompanied by calls for dialogue in many cases. The international observer missions and the MPs visiting Catalonia during the October 1 referendum have also unanimously rejected the police violence of last Sunday.

UN experts ask for ‘urgent dialogue’

Indeed, experts at the United Nations asked for “urgent dialogue” on Wednesday. “We are deeply concerned by the outbreak of violence on October 1 during the vote in Catalonia,” said the experts. They demand “that a path be found for following through with a political dialogue” and opening an investigation about the injured. “We urge that effective dialogue be restored as a first step to calming the situation down,” said the statement.

The UN experts also demand that the Spanish authorities “fully respect fundamental human rights, the right to assembly, peaceful association, participation in public affairs and freedom of speech.” The experts signing the document include Annalisa Ciampi, Leilani Farha and Alfred de Zayas.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights demands an ‘impartial investigation’

In addition, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, also called for an investigation into Spain’s police actions during the October 1 referendum. The UN High Commissioner said he is “very disturbed by the violence in Catalonia”, where “hundreds of people were injured.” He urged “the Spanish authorities to ensure thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all acts of violence” and insisted that “police responses must at all times be proportionate and necessary”.

  • "We are deeply concerned by the outbreak of violence on October 1"

    United Nations experts

Observers: ‘Human rights violated on Sunday’

One of the observer missions in Catalonia on October 1, the International Election Expert Research Team, criticized the attempts by Spanish riot police to stop the vote violently. "We saw numerous and repeated violations of civil and human rights," said the head of the mission, Helena Catt. She also said that the Catalan referendum process "should be respected".

‘Obama or Koffi Annan could mediate’

The recent actions taken by the Spanish government in response to the October 1 referendum in Catalonia have not gone unnoticed by the other observer missions either. Former Dutch ambassador and diplomat Daan W. Everts led the group of observers, who wrote a report “strongly condemning” the violence seen on Sunday October 1. Everts said on Thursday that in an interview that “there are some dignitaries such as Obama or Kofi Annan who could mediate in the Catalan issue.”

International delegation of MPs: ‘Police intervention was threatening and brutal’

The international delegation of MPs for the October 1 referendum said that “the results must be taken into account in the international community, especially by the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Spanish authorities”. According to the delegation, "Catalan people" have showed “strength” regarding their right to vote and the referendum was “an authentic political mobilization”. Its spokesman stressed that the intervention of the Spanish police was "threatening, brutal and violated human rights".

Amnesty International: ‘Police used excessive and disproportionate force’

Amnesty International also criticized the Spanish police action against peaceful voters on October 1. The NGO qualified it as “excessive and disproportionate force”. “Members of the National Police force’s Police Intervention Unity (UIP) and Civil Guard officers used excessive and disproportionate force against demonstrators who were passively resisting,” wrote the human rights NGO in a press release published on October 3.



  • Spanish police officers facing voters with the hands up in Lleida (Oriol Bosch)

  • Spanish police officers facing voters with the hands up in Lleida (Oriol Bosch)