Medical examination of detainees in Catalonia, Spain, carried out in the presence of police officers


  • Carme Vivancos SIRECOVI-Universitat de Barcelona
  • Iñaki Rivera Beiras Observatorio del Sistema Penal y los Derechos Humanos (OSPDH). Barcelona University



Institutional violence, Catalonia, Medical examinations, Police, Catalan independence movement


Introduction: On 14th October 2019, the Supreme Court of Spain issued a court judgment convicting social and political leaders in Catalonia, of crimes of embezzlement, sedition and disobedience. Following this, widespread protests in Catalonia began. During these protests, there were also numerous clashes between protesters and members of different Catalan and Spanish police forces, which ended with more than 600 people suf- fering injuries to varying degrees.

Method: Semi-structured interviews in prison (n=22) with people injured and detained during demonstrations. 

Results: No detainees were informed of their right to a medical examination. 50% of detain- ees reported access to medical examinations in police custody. In all cases this was carried out in primary healthcare centres in the presence of police in the examination room. In all cases the report was given to the police instead of the detainee. The whereabouts of this docu- mentation is unknown despite attempts from the detainees and their lawyers to obtain them. 31% of detainees reported being medically examined in the courthouse, with police presence at all examinations. Finally, all detainees reported routine medical examinations at the entrance to prison for pre-trial detention, none of which were carried out in the presence of police forces. Detainees reported good treatment once in the prison.

Conclusion: The results show a serious breach of regional, national and international, regulations and in particular the Istanbul Protocol principles relating to the medical examination of detainees.


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How to Cite

Vivancos, C., & Rivera Beiras, I. (2020). Medical examination of detainees in Catalonia, Spain, carried out in the presence of police officers. Torture Journal, 30(1), 49–53.