By Peter H. Salus
Editor’s note: While LR Net’s primary focus is the United States, we do keep an eye on developments elsewhere, particularly as the news from abroad sometimes seems to reflect and prefigure developments here. The current constitutional crisis in Spain is one such story, and we rely on our resident multi-cultural, multi-national correspondent, Peter H. Salus, to keep us informed.
On Thursday, 5 October, BBC revealed: “Spain’s Constitutional Court has suspended next Monday’s session of the Catalan parliament, in a bid to pre-empt a possible push for independence.”
It is not clear under what version of Spanish law this has been done.
Certainly, it follows the Franco-like actions of Mariano Rajoy and the puppet king, Felipe VI. (One has to be concerned about the activities of the even-numbered Felipes. Philip II sent nearly 200 vessels to defeat in 1588; Philip IV got deeply involved in the Thirty-Years War; and now, Felipe VI is more concerned with the unity of Spain than in the concepts of democracy.)
Yesterday, Amnesty International “directly confirmed on the ground that members of the National Police force’s Police Intervention Unit (UIP) and Civil Guard officers used excessive and disproportionate force against demonstrators who were passively resisting in the streets and at the entrances to polling stations. The security forces were acting on the ruling of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), which ordered them to prevent the holding of a referendum.”
Moreover, “In several cases, the actions of National Police and Civil Guard officers involved excessive and unnecessary use of force, and the dangerous use of riot control equipment, injuring hundreds of peaceful protesters,”,said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.
Amnesty International stated “Under international law, law enforcement officials must only use force when strictly necessary to perform the duties entrusted to them. Actions to enforce the TSJC ruling must comply with international standards regarding the use of force. Amnesty International considers that, in many cases, National Police and Civil Guard officers used disproportionate force.”
David Kaye and Alfred de Zayas of the UN Human Rights Council said “Regardless of the lawfulness of the referendum, the Spanish authorities have a responsibility to respect those rights that are essential to democratic societies.”
And so they should.