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The Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, has said this Thursday that the public can "demand" that Spain's CNI (National Intelligence Centre), the country's main security service, give "transparent" information about the imam of Ripoll and their alleged contact with him. The imam in question, Abdelbaki Es Satty, is considered to have been the "mastermind" of the cell behind the terrorist attacks in Catalonia in August this year. He believes that as well as appearing before the Spanish Congress's Official Secrets Commission, they should give a "public" explanation on the matter. He also calls for prevention strategies, the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils and their later management to be debated in the Congress and in the Catalan Parliament after the election in December.

These are some of the conclusions and recommendations of a report on the prevention of radicalisation and terrorism in Catalonia, following the attacks over the summer. Ribó was critical of all branches of the public administration, but especially of the Spanish side for not having allowed the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan police) to join CITCO (Intelligence Centre for Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime) or Europol, unlike the Ertzaintza (Basque police), and for not having called a meeting of the Security Board of Catalonia for eight years. He however didn't want to evaluate the police management of the operation following the attacks, although he noted that many international experts praised the role of the Mossos.

In a press conference, Ribó asked for measures to be taken to improve coordination between the anti-terrorism units of the different police forces within Spain. He also calls for the state to respect the full range of powers and abilities of the Mossos in anti-terror work. The ombudsman believes that such a lack of recognition and coordination was made clear this summer after the attacks. He called for an end to the idea that the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard are the only "serious ones" and the rest are just complementary.

The report

He urged the state government to give an explanation and clarify whether Es Satty was a police informant, and if that somehow affected coordination between the forces. According to him, the Spanish people have the right to demand public, clear and transparent explanations, beyond those given to the Official Secrets Commission. During the presentation of the report, which has already been delivered to the Parliament, the ombudsman explained that this all has to be situated within the wider debate on the relationship between freedom and security, a question which was covered in depth in the international seminars organised by the Ombudsman itself during its presidency of the European chapter of the International Ombudsman Institute in April 2016 and 2017.

As for the role of security forces, the report criticises the stagnation of the Security Board of Catalonia for more than eight years, from 2009 to 2017, whilst in the previous five years it had met almost annually. According to the report, this was extremely serious, even more so given that Spain has been on terror alert warning level 4 out of 5 for almost three years. The Ombudsman doesn't discount the option that the state might have some kind of legal liability.

The report also denounces comparative grievances between the Mossos and Ertzaintza, the majority deriving from the agreement between the PP (Popular Party) government and the EAJ (Basque Nationalist Party) parliamentary party in the Congress to pass their 2017 budget. The agreement includes different measures to coordinate security, to increase Ertzaintza's staff and for them to join European forums. For the Ombudsman, the main grievance is that these decisions were taken for reasons of political stability, and not rationally and fairly based on the decentralisation process and in agreement with the powers of the Basque Country and Catalonia.

Continuing with its recommendations, the Ombudsman stressed that it's especially necessary to consolidate the Mossos's right to be present in CITCO, that highest body coordinating counter-terror information in Spain. They also recommend the Mossos immediately be allowed to join Europol, after consideration of the competent authority, and the other international coordination and information exchange bodies.

As for Catalan authorities, they ask them to approve the Law of the Police of Catalonia which incorporates the powers assumed in the 2006 Statute of Autonomy, since the current law dates from 1994, when the Mossos were still not fully deployed around Catalonia. It also asks the Catalan Parliament, when in session again, to debate the August attacks.

Prevention

As for prevention, the report underlines that the administration has to encourage a dialogue of integration and of prevention of racist behaviour, of discrimination, of incitements to violence and of hate, putting emphasis on young people looking for an identity.

In terms of education, the document highlights the importance of schools as institutions to encourage interculturalism and diversity as positive values, with a view to raising citizens to live in a plural, inclusive society. It also emphasises the struggle against segregation between schools, noting the high concentrations of the migrant community in specific schools. At the same time, it calls for a review of the protocols for detection and prevention of radicalisation in schools and prisons.

Despite admitting that the classrooms set up to welcome young immigrants are working relatively well, they detect flaws in the transition between obligatory schooling and the economic and labour emancipation of young arrivals.

As for social services, Catalan municipalities doesn't have any protocol or specific mechanism to prevent or detect radicalisation, although social service professionals do prevention and coordination work with other services. The Ombudsman positively views the Plan of the citizenry and migrations 2017/2024 of the Secretariat of Equality, Migration and the Citizenry and believes that it's a useful tool for local authorities, but believes it needs more human and material resources to become effective.

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