The Observatori del Sistema Penal i els Drets Humans (Observatory of the Criminal System and Human Rights) has been visiting the young protesters arrested during the unrest seen in Catalonia in recent weeks. As a result of this work, still ongoing, the body has alerted of mistreatment and harassment of protesters during their arrests and afterwards, inside police vans, inside the Spanish government's delegation to Catalonia and, especially, in the National Police Corps headquarters on Barcelona's Via Laietana.
Testimony from a number of young women coincides on them being handcuffed behind their backs, on their knees facing a wall in that headquarters during moments of high tension, especially on the Friday when the news arrived one police officer was seriously ill. They also describe "very hard" scenes of their fellow prisoners being hit. "Blood was literally flying from the hits the boys were getting, to the point of staining the walls", sources from the interviewers who have visited the prisons in recent days say.
The detainees talk of being hit by both Spanish National Police and the Mossos, Catalonia's own police force, of harassment in the police vans where, according to the interviewers, "extremely worrying situations" occurred, with the girls lying at the feet of the police, being trampled on. In some cases, they report officers touched their breasts. Some of them talk of being searched entirely naked, others of the constant presence of officers whilst the injured were being treated by medics, which is banned by international human rights bodies. They talk of handcuffs not being removed from those injured, despite doctors requesting it. One of the young people reportedly had a leg injury stitched closed whilst he remained handcuffed behind his back.
Those arrested are young, some barely 18. The rest are between 20 and 22 years old. They are almost all students. They all also agree that when they arrived at their different prisons, the situation changed. The harassment ceased and the treatment they received was completely correct. They were given clean clothes, attended to by healthcare staff in adequate conditions and were fed.
The Observatory has created a taskforce to follow all the cases, collected testimony with the lawyers' authorisation and will write a report with the Sistema de Registre i Comunicació per a la protecció de les Víctimes de tortura i Violència Institucional (Recording and Communication System for the protection of the Victims of torture and Institutional Violence)