The Spanish Government Grants Pardons for 9 Jailed Catalan Leaders the Day after the Council of Europe Demanded the Liberation of Catalan Political Prisoners, the Return of Exiles, and the End of Repression

On Tuesday, the Spanish government granted partial and reversible pardons for the nine jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Cuixart, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Jordi Sànchez, Joaquim Forn, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, and Raül Romeva in response to international pressure. It came a day after the Council of Europe demanded the liberation of Catalan political prisoners, the withdrawal of extradition orders against exiles, and the end of repression.

The pardons are partial, meaning that the nine leaders are still barred from holding public office for nearly a decade, and reversible in the sense that they will be suspended if the leaders commit a “serious crime” in the coming years or if any of the prisoners exercise the fundamental rights that landed them in prison in the first place. In the cases of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, this was holding a peaceful demonstration.

Council of Europe

On Monday, the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe approved a report by its Committee on Legal Affairs on the situation of political leaders behind bars in Spain and Turkey by 70 votes in favor, 28 against, and 12 abstentions. They demanded the release of the Catalan political prisoners, the withdrawal of the extradition orders against exiles, among others, and the end of repression. They also overturned one by one and by a large majority the amendments of Spain’s PSOE and PP representatives who wanted to reduce the report’s critical content. Spanish efforts to water down the report failed.

The document approved by the Council of Europe is also important because it can be used as a precedent in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Political prisoners have already begun bringing appeals against their prison sentences for weeks. They expect the Strasbourg verdict to result in the annulation of their sentences, which could be a major blow to Spanish justice.

Pardons not a solution to the conflict

The pardons granted for nine jailed Catalan leaders on Tuesday are not a realistic solution to the ongoing conflict. There are still exiles and over 3,300 Catalans currently enduring judicial proceedings, including officials, and thousands of activists and normal people across the country. Thus, the conflict is expected to continue until their situation is resolved and the demands of an astonishing majority of 80% of Catalans, demanding amnesty and self-determination, are heard.

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