On Tuesday, Spain’s Congress Bureau, with a majority of PSOE, PP and Vox, dismissed bringing to debate an amnesty bill law filed by Catalan pro-independence parties last week, which seeks the removal of any kind of criminal and administrative responsibility for all acts of political intent related to the democratic struggle for self-determination of Catalonia since January 1, 2013, which would grant a pardon to over 3,000 victims of reprisals. The motion will not even be debated in the lower house.
The lawyers of Congress, politicized and with a conservative majority, already asked that the Bill not be admitted for processing on Monday, arguing that the proposal was partially unconstitutional because it did not propose an amnesty but a general pardon.
The dismissal of the bill did not come as a surprise to the pro-independence camp. The Spanish government led by PSOE has refused to keep dialogue with Catalonia on multiple occasions during the current legislature.
“PSOE don’t miss an opportunity to align themselves with PP and Vox by blocking this amnesty law,” Catalan government spokesperson Mertixell Borràs lamented on Tuesday.
The president of Unidas Podemos parliamentary group, Jaume Asens, told Catalunya Ràdio that it was “serious” that the Bureau wanted to “stand as a kind of censor which carries out prior control and usurps the functions of the Constitutional Court.”
The Spanish government says it is considering other alternatives, which have been rejected or deliberately postponed, such as granting presidential pardons to the nine politicians and high-profile activists political prisoners or a reform of the crime of sedition for which they were convicted. However, these proposals would only benefit the top leaders of the pro-independence movement, leaving over 3,000 lower-profile cases unresolved.
The civil society organization Òmnium Cultural has prepared a signature drive for April 10 in an attempt to send the bill back to the lower house.
Repeal of crime of sedition and gag law
On Tuesday, the Spanish Congress also rejected a bill proposed by the Catalan pro-independence party CUP to repeal the crime of sedition and the gag law. PSOE who had “defended” a reform of the crime of sedition and promised to repeal the gag law during the last presidential campaign, allied with conservatives and far-right PP, Vox and C’s to overturn CUP’s proposal and show how false their promises to its electorate had been.
Pro-independence parties reproached PSOE for the old promise to repeal the gag law and the fact that two and a half years after coming to power it has not been repealed yet, but “applied more than the former right-wing government of PP.”
Pro-independence activists also described it as “shameful” that the PSOE has not pursued the reform of the crime of sedition promised by the Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo.
Unidas Podemos showed support for the initiative, along with ERC, Junts and the BNG. The proposal of the anti-capitalists overlaps with the proposal of the PNV that was processed last fall calling only for a reform of the gag law, which was approved by PP in 2015.