ELDH Statement: ELDH condemns the conviction of Catalan politicians and civil society activists – A travesty of justice
Download letter concerning the attacks on lawyer Gonzalo Boye (defense lawyer of the Catalan ex-president Carles Puigdemont and some of his former ministers) The letter was sent to the Mr. Diego García-Sayán, United Nations Special Rapporteur of the Human Council on the independence of judges and lawyers
The ELDH condemns the sentences of between 9 and 13 years imprisonment imposed by the Spanish Supreme Court on Monday 14 October 2019 on the nine Catalan political and civil leaders already in custody for long period. The Court also announced a verdict for the three former Government of Catalonia Cabinet Ministers who are currently not in jail. Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Joaquim Forn, Josep Rull, Meritxell Borràs, Carles Mundó, and Santi Vila were Cabinet Ministers of the former Government of Catalonia; Carme Forcadell was the President (Speaker) of the Parliament of Catalonia, and Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez were leaders of two civil society organisations.
The trial began on 12 February 2019 in Madrid. The ELDH President and other members of the ELDH Executive Committee observed several hearings of the trial.
The Court dropped the State Prosecutor’s charges of rebellion, but sentenced them for the crimes of sedition, embezzlement of public funds, and disobedience, in the context of the 1 October 2017 referendum on independence.
ELDH recalls that the referendum was a non-violent act of civil disobedience, organised peacefully to allow the voices of many Catalans to be heard. The only violence on 1 October was that perpetrated by the Spanish Police, in actions of extreme repression and destruction captured on film.
ELDH agrees with the Government of Catalonia’s Minister for Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Alfred Bosch, who stated that:
- These have been political proceedings, putting people on trial solely and exclusively for their political ideas.
- The prison sentences imposed upon the nine Catalan leaders represent a historical error that, far from solving the problem, merely worsens it.
- The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, has done nothing to resolve this situation through dialogue, as can be seen by the punishment sought by the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Spanish Attorney General’s Office, both directly politically appointed by the Spanish Government.
- Far from providing any solution, the verdict against the political prisoners shifts the conflict to the European arena and the international courts of justice.
- The international community needs to play an active role in resolving this conflict between Catalonia and Spain. Nobody can remain silent before this violation of fundamental rights.
- The Government of Catalonia has always and will always argue that this conflict cannot be resolved with further conflict, and makes an international call for dialogue and a democratic solution.
ELDH agrees with Alyn Smith, SNP, MEP, and President of the European Free Alliance (EFA) Group in the European Parliament that the sentences are ‘a travesty of justice which will only serve to worsen already difficult relations between Catalonia and Spain’.
ELDH calls on the Government of Spain to bring about the earliest release of these Catalan prisoners, and urges the European Union and its member states to work with Spain to achieve early release, and to redouble efforts for a political solution.
Note: The statement is based on the draft statement of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers: Haldane Society condemns the sentences imposed on Catalan politicians and civil society activists – a travesty of justice