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A new system to report and warn about institutional violence will protect victims of torture and abuse

The team of OSPDH will value each report SIRECOVI receives.

The team of OSPDH will value each report SIRECOVI receives.

03/01/2017

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The University of Barcelona and Consell de l’Advocacia Catalana signed an agreement to support SIRECOVI, a system to report and warn about situations of institutional violence through the Internet, managed by the Observatory of the Penal System and Human Rights (OSPDH) of the University of Barcelona. With this system, pioneer in Europe, abuses and tortures can be reported in the SIRECOVI website and a set of actions (including the report of these cases to national and international human rights entities) will be taken after the warning.

SIRECOVI (system for the register and report of institutional violence) does not substitute any of the processing mechanisms or justice administration. This is a new mechanism to help stopping cases of violence by public officials or private guards who fulfil public functions. The victims can enter the SIRECOVI website and report the case through a form. These forms can also be used by family members or friends of the victims, lawyers and human rights organizations. SIRECOVI covers cases of violence in prisons, police stations, care centers, detention centers, as well as for certain actions of security forces in the street.

The team of OSPDH, which has a career of more than fifteen years of work in these fields, will value each report SIRECOVI receives. Among the first planned measures there is the reporting of the cases to the Ombudsman of Catalonia and the public administration –possible cause of the violence. In this sense, SERICOVI has found proper interlocutors in several Catalan public administrations. The members of SIRECOVI will visit the victim and ask for permission to bring the case to more organisms. Each report will be studied individually to value which entities are the best ones to treat each case –among twenty national and international organizations, like the UNO Special Rapporteur on Torture and the World Organization Against Torture.  

According to the director of OSPDH, Professor Iñaki Rivera, with this communication and alert system for organizations of protection of the human rights, the “allegedly” responsible organizations are expected to feel “questioned”. “This is not a confrontation system with the administrations, but we want to help from here the university to stop institutional violence; the objective is to defend the victims” he says. Rivera says SIRECOVI is a pioneer and necessary system since there is “an under-use of the international right on human rights”.  

The vice-president of the Consell de l’Advocacia Catalana, Julio J. Naveira, said that “the law takes part of responsibility in the prevention of acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or humiliating punishments”. Therefore, “we need tools like this one, enabling us advancing with the report of these acts, which are totally prohibited by international and Spanish rights”, he says.

Setting SIRECOVI up, with the support of the Barcelona City Council, was possible thanks to an agreement between OSPDH and the Consell de l’Advocacia Catalana, which represents the fourteen law schools in Catalonia. There is now diffusion about SIRECOVI among the law collective through law schools. Today the first training meeting at the Barcelona Bar Association (ICAB) will take place, organized by the Committee of Defence of the ICAB. The UB is also making diffusion of the new reporting system among family members of prisoners and social organizations for the defence of human rights.

Apart from being a tool to defend human rights, SIRECOVI is a tool for the research carried out at OSPDH. In this sense, it will enable shaping a data base to study institutional violence and it will create a map to show which cases of institutional violence get to SIRECOVI, with the necessary security measurements to protect the privacy of the people involved.

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