Catalan National Assembly demands the Catalan government releases political prisoners during the COVID19 health emergency, as called for by the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Rapporteur

The organization  believes  the decision not to release them was taken under the coercion and threat of the Spanish Supreme Court and considers this is intolerable and discriminatory against political prisoners, and must be denounced.

The Catalan National Assembly regrets the decision taken by the Generalitat Government of Catalonia  to keep Catalan political prisoners in jail and not to allow them to be confined at home, as recommended by international authorities when it concerns low-risk  prisoners  under measures such as the open prison regime provided in article 100.2 of the Spanish  Penitentiary Regulations. This comes after a communiqué by the Spanish Supreme Court which threatens  prosecution for any  parole board member or public servant that provides them with  prison leave, a despicable act that must be denounced.

In this line, the Council of Europe’s Special Rapporteur on Human rights, Latvian MP Boriss Cilevičs, who is researching for a report on incarcerated politicians in Spain and Turkey, has called for Spain to release the Catalan civic & political leaders  in view of the coronavirus pandemic. In a recent statement, he acknowledged that “Prisoners with political backgrounds, such as the Catalan politicians convicted for their role in the unconstitutional referendum in October 2017, or the Turkish parliamentarians, mayors and other politicians imprisoned for speeches made in the exercise of their mandate, should certainly benefit from such measures.”

Mr. Cilevičs also stated that after meeting them during his visit to Catalonia last February, he is “totally convinced that these women and men pose no threat to anyone.” He called for their rights to be respected and to be released during the coronavirus crisis.

In February, the president of the Catalan National Assembly Elisenda Paluzie, and members of the organisation’s International Commission met with Mr. Cilevičs within the framework of his study on the violation of political rights in the member countries of the Council of Europe. The Special Rapporteur is focusing  on Turkey and the  Spain, the countries with the most reported cases. This report, which is not yet complete, will be published before the end of the year.

Letter to the consuls following the coronavirus crisis

Also in connection with the coronavirus crisis, on Friday, March 27th, the Catalan National Assembly sent a letter signed by its president Elisenda Paluzie, to the consuls residing in Barcelona to  express our objection to the management of the crisis by the Spanish Government, before their recent announcement to stop all non-essential services. Ms. Paluzie emphasized that this crisis should be addressed “with co-operation and coordination and not only with executive decisions made unilaterally in the Spanish capital. The requisition of medical equipment needed at the Igualada Hospital, located in the main focus of the epidemic in Catalonia, would be an example.”

She also stated that at the time, the Government of the Generalitat had requested the confinement of the  Madrid Region to  prevent the spread of the virus, a petition that was rejected by the Spanish Government, as was the request for authorization to carry out  the total isolation of Catalonia. This call was based on the measures taken in territories such as Wuhan in China, Lombardy in Italy, or the Tyrol in Austria, where total confinement has served to curb the infection of coronavirus and thus reduce mortality.

In that sense, the president of the Catalan National Assembly stated in the letter that “the climate of hostility towards the people of Catalonia, a national minority that has been claiming its right to self-determination for years, helps to deny any initiatives that arise from this territory, even if they are proposals based on common sense” and recalled that “the same demands made by other autonomous communities, such as Murcia, have not received political criticism, although their requests were not accepted either”.