The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) Demands the Immediate Release of Jailed Catalan Leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez

The largest network of NGOs against torture and inhumane treatment in the world, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), has called for the immediate release of two jailed Catalan leaders; Òmnium Cultural’s president Jordi Cuixart and the former President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Jordi Sànchez.

The OMCT demands that accusations against the two jailed Catalan leaders be dropped, considering that they are unfounded. They also argue that keeping them in pre-trial jail is a restriction of their fundamental rights.

In the letter, which focuses on Jordi Cuixart, and is signed by Secretary General of the OMCT, Gerald Staberock, the organization calls for an end to the harassment against Cuixart and Sànchez and seeks to guarantee their right to a fair trial.

Another concern for the OMCT is that these two leaders of civil society will be tried in the Spanish Supreme Court. This is worrisome, especially when recalling the latest controversies about how the members of the high court are appointed, which cast doubt on the separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

The OMCT believes that the political nature of the trial against the Catalan leaders is highlighted by the participation of the far right Vox party as a private prosecution.

The letter also points out that Cuixart has appealed to the courts for release on several occasions but “with no success,” and argues that to be “compatible with international standards,” pre-trial imprisonment “must only be applied as a last resort.”

The OMCT recalls that the right to freedom of assembly consecrates the freedom to meet, debate, and discuss whenever the organizers of the meeting have peaceful intentions, means, and ways. Additionally, at this point, the entity emphasizes that the term “peaceful” must be understood as a behavior “that can annoy or offend, and even prevent or hinder third-party activities.”

The OMCT already publicly condemned the “indiscriminate and excessive use of force by the police in Catalonia during last year’s independence referendum” and called for an immediate and impartial investigation.

READ the full statement here

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The Catalan Police Group Guilleries Warns that Spain’s Police Agents Participate in Far-Right Unionist Squads

On Friday, the Catalan police group, Guilleries, released a statement on Twitter where they reported that agents of the Spanish police Civil Guard had participated in a unionist far-right group meeting that had acted across Girona’s region (Catalonia) over the last few months. 

On Tuesday night, the Catalan police were alerted by an unnamed local source neighborhood of a far-right group meeting in a bar in Figueres (Girona) that was allegedly preparing to remove Independence symbology and yellow ribbons from numerous towns across the region of Girona.

When the Mossos arrived, they observed that two men from the group left the bar and got in a black color car. That’s when Catalan police followed and intercepted them. The surprise was when the two men in the car identified themselves as agents of the Spanish police Civil Guard.

According to the Mossos, these two agents were “nervous and cooperated very little.” They refused to give any explanation about why they were participating in a far-right group meeting. In this regard matter, the Catalan police demand that the Spanish Ministry for Home Affairs clarify what tasks are being carried out by the hundreds of Spanish police agents deployed across Catalonia that are not part of the ordinary staff. “It would be unacceptable that public resources are being spent to integrate police officers into squads aimed at provoking civil strife.” The Guilleries group of Mossos warns of the presence of Civil Guards infiltrated in extremist unionist squads.

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The Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP) to Reach an Agreement on the New Composition of the General Council of the Spanish Judicial Power (CGPJ)

The Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP) are negotiating over the new composition of the General Council of the Spanish Judicial Power (CGPJ), the governing body of the judiciary, as well as the presidency of the Supreme Court. The new appointments to the CGPJ  are scheduled for early December. Twenty members will be appointed: twelve by magistrates and eight by political parties in the Spanish Congress with a qualified majority of three fifths. 

The PSOE needs the PP for the renewal of the GCPJ given that it requires the aforementioned super-majority of three-fifths in the Spanish Congress. The negotiations between the PP and the PSOE began early this August though no final agreement has yet been reached.

The PP has proposed Manuel Marchena, the current President of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, to replace Carlos Lesmes at the head of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ). The name Marchena has political significance. He currently presides over the chamber that will judge the Catalan leaders and political prisoners who were involved in last year’s independence referendum. He will also be the one to announce the final sentences against them. Though not officially decided yet, the PSOE will propose someone like the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court, Encarnación Roca. However, the PSOE could end up accepting the PP’s proposal given that the deadline for proposing the members of the new CGPJ is today, and it needs the support of the PP. It’s believed that failing to reach an agreement would weaken the PSOE.

The PSOE is planning to give Unidos Podemos one of the names of the ten judges that they will nominate. Apparently, Podemos will choose Victoria Rosell. Thus Podemos appears to support this flagrant violation of the separation of powers in Spain that they once strongly criticized.

The Spanish Government won’t involve the Catalan pro-independence parties in the renewal of the Spanish judiciary, although the Catalan Government didn’t intend to participate in any case. The Catalan administration believes that the twenty members of the CGPJ should be elected by the judges, and not by parties. The renewal of the Council of the Spanish Judiciary comes on the eve of the trial against the Catalan political prisoners over last year’s independence referendum and after the scandal of the sentence of the mortgages that have buried the prestige of the high court, which makes clear the inexistent separations of powers in the Spanish State.

Given that a significant number of judges of the CGPJ, the governing body of the judges, are directly appointed by the two major political parties in the Spanish Congress, who can guarantee that the Catalan political prisoners will have a fair trial? On the contrary, it appears that the sentence against the Catalan leaders will be a political decision that is expected to be a tough one.