Spain: human rights abuses and political prosecution

The political and civil rights of European citizens are being violated. The Spanish government, with its unlimited and indiscriminate interpretation of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, attacked the right of the Catalans to political autonomy. As a ‘solution’, illegitimate elections were called by the Spanish government. Political candidates, parties and the Catalan public broadcaster were actively and passively censored by the Spanish Electoral Commission. Candidates were unable to campaign in democratically normal circumstances as they are prosecuted and under investigation for their political activities and declarations. Eight elected candidates, one of which until recent our chairman, Jordi Sànchez, have been jailed –since Oct 16 2017- for an unreasonable long time without trial or bail, which is a clear abuse of the measure of pre-trial detention. Another civil society leader, Jordi Cuixart, the president of our sister organisation Òmnium Cultural, is in the same situation.

Amnesty International reiterated its ‘call for their immediate release’, as it sees ‘no justification for keeping Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart in pre-trial detention’, which has been going on now for a whole year. The civil rights NGO considers that ‘their continued detention constitutes a disproportionate restriction on their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly.’ Moreover, seven more politicians have been forced into exile to avoid being imprisoned and other Catalan MP’s are being prosecuted. Events that should be unthinkable in this European Union. In the meantime, German Justice discarded the trumped-up charges of rebellion – explicitly meaning violent uprising. Belgian Justice turned the European Arrest Warrants down as they did not comply with formal requirements as judge Pablo Llarena, in an unprecedented move, withdrew the EAW for the second time. This is a clear abuse of the EAW for political reasons, as he also made clear in his partisan rulings and declarations.

As elected representatives and civil society leaders, they are accused of sedition and rebellion, implying violent actions, accusations that have been denounced by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Spanish judges have alleged their – pacific – political activities and ideas are the reason they will not be released, even if they have been elected by the Catalan people. Our right to political representation is as such violated and the constitution of our parliament deformed. Our and their civil and political rights are thus gravely harmed. These are all clear reasons that demonstrate that Catalans will never live a in normal democratic country unless we found one of our own.

More elected politicians have been and are being prosecuted. More than 700 mayors are being criminally investigated for declaring their support for the referendum and have been threatened with arrest by Spain’s attorney-general if they failed to turn up.