On Monday, the President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, said that member states have “the obligation to facilitate all citizens’ access to the courts.” It was his response to MEP Diana Riba’s (ERC) question regarding the pitfalls that the Constitutional Court puts on the jailed Catalan leaders to prevent them from having access to the ECHR.
Sicilianos affirmed that the ECHR will investigate if such a demand is received. He added that there had already been precedents in cases where the prisoner’s access to the ECHR has been hampered. “The court will need to investigate and find out if there is a violation,” he said.
Last week it was revealed that Spain’s Constitutional Court had set a strategy of accepting all the appeals from the Catalan political prisoners to prevent them from having access to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR). This procedure was performed on around fifty appeals for protection filed by Catalan political prisoners against provisions of the Spanish Supreme Court. This kept these matters away from the Strasbourg court during the Independence trial and until the sedition sentence.
If the Constitutional Court had failed to accept all these appeals – only 1% are usually accepted — it would have allowed the defenses to subsequently report a human rights violation before the ECHR that could have been resolved, or at least accepted, before there was a ruling on the case. The Spanish High Court prevented this.