Incitement to hatred, violence or humiliation of individuals due to their identity, ideology or family connections has been punishable under Spain’s criminal code since 1995.
If this offense is committed against teenagers between 12 and 17 years of age, the crime is twice as serious, given that it also violates the rights of minors, who are particularly vulnerable.
The case involves alleged hate crimes committed by nine teachers against their own students, for the mere fact of being the children of members of Spain’s Civil Guard
And if it is carried out by a group of teachers – in a coordinated manner, what’s more – against a group of their own students, the case takes on particularly repulsive overtones, as it includes elements of “proselytizing or indoctrination.”
This is what allegedly took place on October 2, the day after the illegal independence referendum in Catalonia, at a high school in Sant Andreu de la Barca, near Barcelona, according to a detailed investigation by the public prosecutor.
The case involves alleged hate crimes committed by nine teachers against their own students, for the mere fact of being the children of members of Spain’s Civil Guard.
The staff harassed the youngsters, according to the testimony of the latter to prosecutors, and accused their parents of being “animals and beasts who only know how to deal out blows;” they tried to shame them by asking whether they were satisfied by the actions of their parents the day before; and they intimidated them into going out onto the playground to shout in support of a Catalan republic.
The specialized office that initiated proceedings does not have a record of excesses in pursuing hate crimes, and since its creation, it has focused on defending victims from an independent standpoint, using criteria that are compatible with the structure of a public prosecution service. Some of its more high-profile initiatives include action against a bookstore that sold Nazi literature, and against the discrimination of immigrants by former Badalona mayor Xavier García Albiol.
It will logically fall to the judges to reach a decision on the issue (the courts ruled against the bookseller and in favor of Albiol), but whatever happens, this case looks like it will become very relevant given the seriousness of the accuser, the profusion of witnesses and the amount of accumulated details.
There can be no doubt that the climate of tension generated by the leaders of the pro-independence leaders has created a breeding ground for confrontation, hatred and crimes
The head of territorial services in the Catalan government, Núria Vallduriola – an efficient organizer when it came to providing schools for use as voting stations for the illegal referendum, and who supported the alleged offenders at the time – should at least open an investigation into the case. Or she should quit given her alleged partisanship. Or she should be sacked in accordance with Article 155 for prioritizing corporate interests over those of the children – something that is shameful for a senior official in a teaching department.
The dire behavior that is being investigated will be solely attributable to its perpetrators, not to the collective. But there can be no doubt that the climate of tension generated by the leaders of the pro-independence movement has created a breeding ground for confrontation, hatred and crimes. Protected, albeit, by the generally correct and normally peaceful behavior of the rest of the citizens. But there have been systemic exceptions to the rules, with coercion at schools, aggressive protests in the streets and attacks against the headquarters of rival parties. Those who conceal or deny these acts ultimately agree with them.
English version by Simon Hunter.