Assemblea denounces the criminalization of Catalonia’s independence movement before the OSCE

The Catalan National Assembly has taken part in the 2023 OSCE Warsaw Human Dimension Conference, one of the most important gatherings on the state of human rights in Europe, to denounce the systematic criminalization of the peaceful Catalan pro-independence movement.

On the 9th and 10th of October, the Catalan National Assembly has taken part in the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference organised by the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The meeting brings together international organisations, governments and civil society to discuss and debate about the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the OSCE region.

Assemblea’s board member Jordi Vilanova  took the floor on the fifth and sixth sessions of the meeting focusing on the Rule of Law.  In his interventions, Vilanova denounced that fabricated accusations and investigations into terror-related crimes of peaceful Catalan activists have become a common practice by Spanish authorities. Aggravated by the exceptional conditions allowed by the Spanish anti-terrorist legislative framework, this “has a general chilling effect on Catalan activists and creates an environment where individuals are afraid to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, and their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”, he alerted.

Vilanova explained the case of the non-violent Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs), falsely accused and prosecuted for terrorism and illicit manufacturing of explosives. A total of 12 members of the CDRs are being prosecuted and pending judgement, with some of them spending between three and four months in pretrial detention before they were released, as there was no proof of the existence of explosives. Although sometimes resulting in acquittals, this repressive practice violates the right to the presumption of innocence, the right to defence, and the right to privacy and honour of activists and civil society.

Another topic raised by the Catalan National Assembly’s representative was the inclusion of Catalonia’s self-determination movement in Europol’s 2023 Terrorism Situation and Trend report, for which Assemblea demanded explanations and  rectification last July. The Spanish government recently asked Europol to delete the movement from the report, although it was they who had provided the information in the first place.

The practice of using false accusations to repress the Catalan pro-independence movement has been widely used by Spanish authorities since 2017, including reprisals against more than 1,400 activists and elected representatives, and the imprisonment of nine civil and political leaders. These human rights violations have been denounced by several United Nations Human Rights Special Rapporteurs, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, among other international bodies.

For all these reasons, the Catalan National Assembly has called on Spain to stop the criminalization of Catalonia’s self-independence movement and to put an end to using the judiciary as a tool to repress Catalans, and on the OSCE institutions to engage with Spanish authorities to make sure that the necessary measures are taken so the human rights of Catalan activists are respected.

Assemblea takes part regularly in the meetings of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on human rights, making oral statements as well as submitting written statements to denounce violations of rights by Spanish institutions against the people of Catalonia.