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Letter to the United Nations and to the Council of Europe



Michelle Bachelet Jeria
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Dunja Mijatović
Council of Europe
Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights


Barcelona, 10 December 2018


Ref.: Hunger strike for Basic and Human Rights in Catalonia


Dear United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dear Ms Bachelet,

Dear Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dear Ms Mijatović,


I, Elisenda Paluzie, am addressing you as the Chair of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), a grassroots organisation promoting, in peaceful and democratic ways, the attainment of the independence of Catalonia. ANC is a key actor of the civil society in the current political process. Among a wide variety of activities, we have organised since 2012 the massive, colourful and joyful yearly demonstrations of more than one million people in Barcelona for the Catalan National Day.

I address you this letter as an interpellation for assistance. My two predecessors, Mr Jordi Sànchez and Ms Carme Forcadell, have been held in pre-trial detention for a long time now, together with seven other political prisoners and other political dissidents who were forced to go into exile. They presented recourses in remedy to protect their constitutional rights against this indefinite pre-trial detention, but these recourses remain illegally blocked, a situation we all have to denounce.

Since our thwarted exercise of self-determination, a fundamental right, Spain has ridden roughshod over the human, civil and political rights of the Catalan minority as defined in the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, all signed and ratified by Spain. Neither these treaties nor Spanish law have been upheld for the Catalan political prisoners.

The Constitutional Court refuses to decide on the prisoners’ recourse to protect their constitutional rights, in relation to the legality of their pre-trial detention. The Constitutional Court is legally bound to decide on these recourses within 30 days, as also stipulated by the Court’s own internal doctrine. By refusing to decide on these recourses for more than a year now, Mr Jordi Sànchez (former ANC Chair) and Mr Jordi Cuixart (Chair Òmnium Cultural), inter alia, see their access to the European Court of Human Rights blocked, deliberately and illegally.[1]

To denounce this clear and politically motivated rights violation by the Constitutional Court, Mr Jordi Sànchez and Mr Jordi Turull started a hunger strike on 1 December 2018.[2] Their hunger strike was followed by Quim Form and Josep Rull for the same motives, on 3 December 2018.

What they ask, is simply their rights to be respected, to have a fair trial and to have access to all the legal instruments and recourses, as any other citizen. As ANC, we appeal to you to denounce this fundamental rights violation. We also would like to ask you to send observers to monitor the legal procedures and the trials against the Catalan prisoners and other political dissidents. Spain has to respect the Rule of law and the internal legal order as well as the international treaties it is bound by. Nothing less can be demanded.

It is crucial that the Constitutional Court is moved to lift its illegal blockade against these recourses. We ask you, as Human Rights Commissioners, to speak out against this blockade and demand Spain to respect basic and human rights. We need you to speak out, to help us safeguard our freedom, to stand up for democracy, to uphold the crumbling Rule of law in Spain, to protect human dignity and to shield our human rights, including these of state minorities as we Catalans are.

In copy you will find a report on the general human rights degradation in Spain. We would be glad to have a reunion with you to discuss this matter and its scope. For any questions or queries you may have, I remain at your disposition.


Yours sincerely,


Elisenda Paluzie

Chair of the Catalan National Assembly


[1] Both Mr Sànchez and Mr Cuixart have been locked up without trial since 16 October 2017, amounting to 420 days in prison.

[2] Declaration by Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull from Lledoners prison