The Catalan National Assembly has filed an official maladministration complaint before the European Ombudsman for the inclusion of the Catalan pro-independence movement in an ‘Extremism’ section in a Europol terrorism list, calling for remedy and for the opening of an inquiry on the matter.
The Catalan National Assembly has lodged an official maladministration complaint before the European Ombudsman after it had demanded explanations from Europol -the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation – for including the Catalan pro-independence movement in a report on terrorism– and had received an inconclusive reply.
Last July, Assemblea President Ms. Dolors Feliu had forwarded a letter to Europol’s Executive Director Ms. Catherine De Bolle to express the organisation’s concern regarding the EU body’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT 2023), which listed the Catalan pro-independence movement as a terrorist threat, and called for a rectification. In the missive, Ms. Feliu requested the information provided by the Spanish authorities that supposedly connected the movement with terrorism, demanding to know how the accusations had been verified by Europol and calling for the withdrawal of the criminalizing content.
Since the response from Ms. De Bolle failed to address any of the issues raised, Assemblea has now turned to the European Ombudsman, requesting they open an inquiry, engage in communication with Europol’s competent authorities and undertake the necessary measures to address this maladministration and making sure it is remedied.
The first version of Europol’s TE-SAT 2023 report published last June listed the Catalan pro-independence movement in the chapters of “Ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism” and “Left-wing and anarchist terrorism”, although the movement defends Catalonia’s right to self-determination of Catalonia exclusively through democratic and peaceful means and initiatives.
It wasn’t until late September that the Spanish government asked Europol to remove the Catalan pro-independence movement from the “Ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism” chapter, after Catalan party Junts set it as a condition for the investiture of Mr. Pedro Sánchez. For this reason, on October 26th a new version of the report was published.
In it, the Catalan movement had been removed from “Ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism” chapter but remained in the “Left-wing and anarchist terrorism” one, and a newly added ‘Extremism’ section continued stating that “the Catalan and Basque independence movements are currently the most active and violent within the Spanish separatist scene”.
By describing the Catalan pro-independence movement as violent and including it in a report focusing on terrorist threats, Europol is contributing to the criminalization of a pacific, legitimate, and democratic self-determination movement.
The contemporary Catalan independence movement is and has been a peaceful and non-violent one since it became mainstream more than a decade ago. It defends the right to self-determination of Catalonia within the scope of the rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and political participation, as stated by numerous international bodies and NGOs.
The Catalan National Assembly will go to all lengths to denounce the criminalization of the Catalan pro-independence movement. Labelling activists as terrorists and falsely accusing them of using violence serves the purpose of criminalizing the right to protest and stifles political dissent, therefore undermining rule of law in the EU.
The European Ombudsman is a body that investigates complaints about poor administration or maladministration by European Union institutions, bodies and agencies. Once a complaint is made, the Ombudsman studies it and decides whether to open an inquiry. If it finds that there has been maladministration, the Ombudsman decides whether to open an inquiry. If the inquiry finds there has been maladministration, the Ombudsman may make recommendations or propose solutions to solve the problem.