Sunday, November 28

The Government did not process a single sanction from the Mossos to protesters last year | Catalonia

The Mossos d'Esquadra carry out a control in a bottle area in Barcelona.
The Mossos d’Esquadra carry out a control in a bottle area in Barcelona.Joan Sanchez / THE COUNTRY

Last year the Generalitat did not process any of the nearly 1,200 minutes that the Mossos d’Esquadra opened in demonstrations and public meetings held in Catalonia. The Department of the Interior did not resolve and did not even initiate a single disciplinary proceeding. The null administrative activity in this matter, reflected in the 2020 Interior report, has caused discomfort in the autonomous police, who see their work despised and their credibility, touched.

Police sources attribute the total absence of files to the political will of the Government of Quim Torra not to punish the pro-independence mobilizations with economic sanctions. An Interior spokesperson, who is now headed by the counselor Joan Ignasi Elena (Esquerra) explained on Tuesday that the department does not know why no file was processed, but added that it is “looking and analyzing” the matter.

Despite the mobility and capacity restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, in 2020 a total of 5,440 concentrations and demonstrations were held in Catalonia; the city of Barcelona was the scene of almost half of them. But those were just the demonstrations reported to the Department of the Interior. Many others ran through the streets of towns and cities without the required prior notice, where the convener must state in writing the place and date of the event and other relevant information; for example, if traffic outages are foreseeable.

It is in these unreported demonstrations that most of the administrative work of the Mossos d’Esquadra accumulates, which can open what is technically known as “data collection records”. Wherever possible, there is the name of the people or entities that are present at the march. Although to a lesser extent, the manifestations of which the Interior has been made aware may also be the object of acts of infringement; for example, if they breach or significantly alter the plan they had reported.

Police sources explain to EL PAÍS that, last year, the Mossos drew up around 1,200 minutes, which must later be processed by the General Directorate of Security Administration (DGAS), which depends on the Interior. The DGAS can archive the file or impose a fine. The same sources concede that, in some cases – especially when no one has been identified – the process can be complicated. But they do not see a reasonable explanation for the number of files that are processed in memory: zero.

The Mossos unions raised the issue with Elena at the last meeting of the Police Council, held last week. The counselor responded evasively: he said that he was unaware of that information, but that he would study what happened and find out why none of the minutes presented by the Mossos were followed. Interior alludes to the changes in the Government after the last elections – Sonia Andolz has replaced Jordi Jardí as head of the DGAS – to justify why it does not know what the previous managers of the portfolio wanted. The department does not clarify, however, whether or not the sanctions are being processed this year.

“They stay in the drawer”

“If we do all that work of collecting data and then there is no sanction, what sense does it make?” Asks the spokesman for the USPAC union, Albert Palacio. Palacio regrets that such a decision represents a “loss of authority” for the police and makes citizens understand that “nothing ever happens.” “The files have been left in a drawer. If everything is free, we are going wrong. And more in the social and political context in which we are ”, affirms a command of the Mossos. Police sources believe that the Interior’s inaction could even constitute a crime of prevarication by omission.

The daily traffic cuts in the Meridiana avenue of Barcelona, ​​led by the independence movement, are at the origin of the paralysis of the files, according to police sources. With the argument that the right to demonstrate goes above everything else, the Government instructed Interior to shelve the sanction proposals, always according to the same sources. In addition to the cuts in La Meridiana, a multitude of unsolicited demonstrations were held last year. In October, for example, protests against COVID restrictions led to serious incidents in Barcelona.

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