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SPAIN: Prison sentence for Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez threatens right to protest

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Beyond the complexity and the political character of the events in Catalonia over the last two years – which are interpreted differently at the local, national and international level- a number of worrying developments regarding the freedom of assembly, association and expression have been reported to us, because our mission is to alert and informed about threats to civic space and reactions of civic actors.

On 14 October 2019, the Supreme Court of Spain decided to condemn to prison terms ranging from 9 to 13 years nine of the twelve accused of the organised actions linked to the Independence of Catalonia between September and October 2017. They were found guilty of sedition and some of them also with misuse of public funds.

Out of the nine, two presidents of Catalan associations, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, are charged with nine years of prison time. In 2017, they had called for peacefully protesting against the sentence of the court finding the referendum on the Catal independence illegal. They have already served nearly two years of pre-trial detention, severe deprivation of liberties.

Several national and international observers have also pointed out to what they consider as a number of irregularities in the process that lead to suspects of politicisation of the trial. See the reports:

Over 150 Catal civil society organisations have signed a manifesto rejecting the sentence. They stated that the sentence will have “serious consequences on the political rights of the citizens and the rights of manifestation, expression, free association and political dissent, supposing a retreat for the democratic quality of our society.

 

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UPDATE – 11 November 2019: The International Trial Watch, a platform bringing together lawyers from several countries to observe the Catalan Trial, published the assessment of the sentence: https://internationaltrialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/POSICIONAMIENTO_SENTENCIA_12112019-ingles-carta.pdf.

The report states:

“Due to all these reasons, international and national observers condemn the violation of human rights (civil and political rights listed and recognized by Treaties and Conventions dully signed by the Kingdom of Spain, which in turn are part of the national legal system under articles 10, 96 and other concordant articles of the Spanish Constitution), the violation of criminal and procedural principles mentioned, as well as the criminal law principles of fragmentation, proportionality and last resort, by the analysed criminal proceedings and its judgement.

The great violation of the abovementioned rights and principles caused by the judgement and the reasoning within it make it impossible to analyse this judgement from a strictly legal point of view. Any earnest attempt at interpreting the judgement based on technical and legal concepts, such as sedition, uprising, violence or fundamental right becomes unsuccessful. The reason is surely because it is a clearly ideological resolution aimed at replacing the political solution that is needed in the conflict in Catalonia.”

Support the statement here: https://internationaltrialwatch.org/en/judgement-and-reactions/support/.