'SOS Racisme' warns of rising hatred in Catalonia

The NGO against xenophobic discrimination denounces that public expenditure cuts hit immigrants hardest. 'SOS Racisme' also denounces police abuse cases against immigrants and alerts on the raise of extreme-right in some Catalan towns.

CNA / Júlia Nuix

June 2, 2011 09:59 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- 'SOS Racisme' has warned that racial hatred is increasing in Catalonia. According to the organization’s annual report a series of events took place in 2010 which “put social cohesion in danger”. These events include political debates which capitalise on immigration and decisions such as the prohibition in some city councils of the burqa, as well as the rise of extreme-right parties like ‘Plataforma per Catalunya’ –which still is marginal in the entire Catalonia but quite present in some specific towns. Moreover, 'SOS Racisme' warned that the budget cuts due to the economic crisis affect immigrants the most and that a “permissive” atmosphere is noticeable among people on the street. The report also emphasises that 34.5% of the complaints received are due to an abuse of authority or aggression from security forces.

Among these complaints, 42% are reports against the Catalan Police force, the ‘Mossos d’Esquadra’, which is in charge of security in Catalonia and is the most numerous police; 24% against the ‘Guàrdia Urbana’ (Barcelona local police force); 10% against the Policía Nacional (the Spanish police); and, 12% against detention centres for foreigners. SOS Racism admits that these data are only a sample, not elaborated scientifically and thus cannot be extrapolated to the whole of Catalonia. The NGO added, however, that they are good enough to show that “abuses and mistreatment from police agents towards the immigrant population continue to increase”. In this sense, it considers that the decision of the Catalan Government to remove the Catalan Police’s Ethics Code to be a “step back” in the defence of human rights.

Rise of the extreme-right

'SOS Racisme' particularly warned of the vote-catching use of immigration and assured that the extreme-right in Catalonia is not easy to identify, since it is a phenomenon which is starting to affect parties with established democratic traditions. The NGO adds that groups which instigate hatred based on the origin, culture, skin colour or religion take advantage of the crisis to promote their policies. SOS Racism considers that the results of ‘Plataforma per Catalunya’ (PxC), a Catalan extreme-right party, in recent elections show the “seriousness of the present situation”. PxC got 2.6% of the votes in the last local elections, but in some particular town they were the second or the third party, and got seats in the local councils.

The organisation denounced the “weakness” of the judicial system when faced with actions by the extreme-right and stated that these cases have increased more than 5% in relation to last year.