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Human rights organizations Amnesty International and Omega Research Foundation have produced a joint report on the misuse of police batons around the world. Among the examples cited in the document are the violent police actions during the Catalan independence referendum of October 1st, 2017, according to the ACN agency.

Research carried out by the two NGOs details 188 incidents in which police officers misused batons and other police weapons, including cases where they consider the actions carried with the batons may constitute torture and ill-treatment. Specifically, in the case of the Spanish state, Amnesty warns of the "widespread use" made of the weapons by police officers in actions which use "unnecessary or excessive" force.

The violent police action against independence referendum voters at the Barcelona's Escola Mediterrània is one of the examples used by the two organizations to illustrate the "excessive" use of force by police officers when using this type of weapon. The report notes that at this polling station, police beat people who were maintaining a peaceful manner without any obvious threat to justify their actions. They highlight a specific case, that of a woman who was hit in the neck and face on at least two occasions.


More protests, more repression, more countries

The police baton actions during the referendum of October 1st, 2017 are not the only cases of such police violence in Spain that Amnesty highlights. The two organizations state that the Spanish security forces make "excessive" use of these measures of repression on a general basis. Their research also includes other examples such as the use of batons against peaceful protesters during this year's protests against LGBTI-phobia in Madrid after the assassination of Samuel Luiz.

The report explains how this habitual use of measures of excessive repression against protesters is not limited to Spain, but extends to many countries around the world.

Faced with this situation, Amnesty proposes measures to replace these methods in police actions. In the case of Spain, the organizations ask the authorities to provide strict and human rights-based training for officers so that they use these anti-riot weapons in accordance with international standards.

In the event that these incidents cannot be avoided and end up occurring Amnesty calls for them to be recorded and analyzed. The NGO states that in these cases mechanisms should be put in place to investigate cases thoroughly.


Main image: Woman injured by police at Barcelona's Escola Mediterrània on October 1st, 2017 / ACN