Spain: Excessive use of force by police officers

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain - October 18 2019: Police protecting the Jefatura Superior de Policia de Catalunya. © Shutterstock

During its 77th session on 20-21 July 2023, the CAT reviewed the 7th periodic report of Spain. The country’s rapporteurs were Ms. Ana Racu and Mr. Erdogan Iscan

The country delegation was headed by Ms. Aurora Díaz-Rato Revuelta, the Spanish Ambassador of the UN mission. She was accompanied by representatives from various ministries and Offices, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Equality, Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration.

Main issues discussed:

The CAT experts questioned the delegation about the steps taken to prevent and combat ill-treatment in police activity, including the provision of trainings, considering a significant number of allegations of police violence had been reported. They raised concerns about the excessive use of force by police officers, including with weapons such as rubber bullets during peaceful assemblies. Ms Ana Racu stressed the situation of women detained and the importance of a systematic screening for gender-based violence in detention facilities. She called for the creation of programmes for detainees who have mental disorders or addiction problems, including in juvenile centres. She also asked the delegation about the regimes of incommunicado detention and the use of solitary confinement in prisons, which continue to be potentially significant limitations of fundamental safeguards.

The CAT experts further raised serious concerns about the management by Spanish authorities of migrant centers, recalling the tragic incident which led to the death of numerous migrants in Melilla in June 2022, and stressed that steps must be taken to prevent such atrocities in the future. They asked for information on the measures taken to improve detention conditions in migrant centres, including those accommodating unaccompanied children. Moreover, the CAT experts raised the issue of the protection of fundamental safeguards such as access to a lawyer in cases of terrorism.

On the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, the State delegation stated public officials would be punish both from the legal point of view and the disciplinary point of view and added that Spain is working to provide them with human rights trainings. On the migration and asylum issue, the Spanish Cabinet had approved an infrastructure plan for holding centres for asylum seekers. The delegation stressed that training was provided to staff to identify victims of human trafficking in migrant centres. The delegation conveyed its sadness about the incident in Melilla and added that the State had acted appropriately and provided effective remedies.

The CAT's recommendations are available here

Follow-up recommendations

The State party should provide information by 28 July 2024 on the implementation of the recommendations on:

  • excessive use of force by law enforcement officials;
  • impartial investigations regarding the tragedy of the Melilla fence;
  • solitary confinement regime;
  • non-refoulement of persons in need of international protection.

Watch here (part one) and here (part two) the dialogue with the Committee.