1667471124 Amnesty International is asking Congress to ban rubber balls because

Amnesty International is asking Congress to ban rubber balls because they are dangerous

Two police officers with shotguns who fired rubber balls during the serious clashes registered in Barcelona in October 2019 after learning of the “Procés” verdict.Two police officers with shotguns who fired rubber balls during the serious clashes registered in Barcelona in October 2019 after learning of the “Procés” verdict. Massimiliano Minocri

The controversial rubber balls are again causing discussions. On this occasion, hand in hand with Amnesty International’s latest report, which calls on Congress to ban them because of their danger, carrying “a high risk of hitting certain particularly vulnerable parts of the body, especially the eyes”.

The Right to Protest in Spain study published this Thursday by the organization concludes that “this type of projectile is inherently very inaccurate, which prevents its use from being adapted to international standards for the use of force, which stipulate that kinetic impact projectiles should only be used against persons directly involved in acts of violence and aimed at the lower part of the body, as there is a high likelihood of serious injury if they hit the head or upper part of the torso.” he conditions the latter to believe that they are not always respected by the National Police and the Civil Guard.

A report by the Catalan association for the defense of human rights, Iridia, ensures that between 2000 and 2020, 26 people were “affected” by direct exposure to rubber balls. One of them, Athletic Bilbao fan Íñigo Cabacas, died. Amnesty International’s document collects the testimony of journalist Bernat Vilaró, who was hit in the neck by one of these projectiles while covering the events recorded in Barcelona, ​​after learning of the Supreme Court’s ruling in October 2019 the leaders of the process “The doctor who treated me assured me that if I had not worn a gas mask, the impact would have ruptured my windpipe and caused death”, he reminds EL PAÍS. Vilaró filed a complaint, which was filed in January 2021 after police argued that their action was justified.

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Amnesty International’s document is known to coincide with negotiations the investigative partners are conducting to reform the Citizen Security Act, known as the Gag Act, which the PP approved in 2015. These talks have found one of their main obstacles, which is calling for various groups to ban this combat gear. The PSOE defends that its use is maintained. In the last 10 months, the Interior Ministry has purchased 60,000 of these bullets to replenish the stocks of the National Police and Civil Guard. The agents have repeatedly refused their withdrawal as it would mean a loss of their operational capability, and oppose their replacement with foam (less damaging viscoelastic material on paper) bullets, as the Mossos d’Esquadra did in 2014.

Amnesty International also questions this last material in its report, concluding that there have been “deficiencies in its use” that have caused serious injury to citizens, for which it is proposing a temporary suspension pending “an evaluation of its Use, its protocols and its technical data is specifications. The document also criticizes “the extensive use that agents” in Spain make of their means of defense (known as batons), considering that with them they “can exercise unnecessary or excessive force and easily cause unjustified injuries.”

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The document’s criticism goes beyond riot gear and also censors articles of the Criminal Code, such as the Law on Punishment of Sedition and, most importantly, the Gag Law, which calls for important reforms and even the repeal of some dictates. Including 37.4, which stipulates “lack of respect and consideration” towards the police as a minor administrative offense and is punishable with fines of 100 to 600 euros. Amnesty International considers this article to be “unnecessary” and “a risk to the exercise of freedom of expression” because “it allows law enforcement officials a great deal of discretion, given that interpretation [de qué una falta de respeto] It will be checked by you.” The report notes that this article has been one of the most used since the gag law came into force in 2015, with a significant increase over the past year when it was used to impose 26,254 sanctions, compared to 14,892 in the previous period, 18,867 in 2019, or the 21,258 of 2018.

“insults or insults”

This is one of the articles creating the most discrepancies in the negotiations between the six parliamentary groups – PSOE, United We Can, ERC, EH Bildu, PNV and Junts – supporters of gag law reform. The Socialists, who want to keep the current text, have rejected the two proposed amendments. One is from United We Can, its partners in government, who want to limit these sanctions to “insults or insults.” The other that the PNV, in an attempt to bring the positions closer, proposes penalizing “expressions or behavior” that discredit the agents.

To counter the alleged arbitrariness in sanctions for this and other articles of the Gag Act, Amnesty International proposes “the creation of an independent police oversight mechanism capable of handling individual complaints, ex officio investigations and enacting legislation analyze and evaluate regulations and operational procedures for police action. This proposal is consistent with United We Can’s recent proposal to set up an independent body to investigate police conduct suspected of violating citizens’ rights. This commission would be chaired by the ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo. The text is initially supported by five of the six parties involved in the negotiations. The PSOE has asked for time to study it.

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