UN calls on Spain to probe referendum violence

UN calls on Spain to probe referendum violence
Police drag a man across the ground outside a polling station. Photo: AFP
The UN human rights chief said Monday he was disturbed by the violence during a police crackdown on the banned independence referendum in the Spanish region of Catalonia and urged Madrid to investigate any possible misconduct.

“I am very disturbed by the violence in Catalonia on Sunday… I urge the Spanish authorities to ensure thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all acts of violence,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said in a statement.

“Police responses must at all times be proportionate and necessary.”   

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the country's security forces “performed their duty” and that the rule of law had prevailed.    

READ MORE: Madrid vows to 'do everything' to stop Catalan independence declaration

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said police had used “indiscriminate force” against people demonstrating “peacefully”.   

Catalon authorities said 844 people needed medical attention after the weekend unrest, with at least 92 confirmed injured.   

Zeid further called on Madrid to approve “without delay” a request to visit Spain by the UN expert on the right to peaceful assembly, Annalisa Ciampi.    

Ciampi made her request last week, ahead of the vote, but Madrid has not yet responded, Zeid's spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell told AFP.