The Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Fabricates a Dossier of 70 Pages Full of Distortions and Falsehoods to “Combat” the Catalan pro-Independence Movement Abroad

Spain Global, a body of the Spanish Foreign Ministry led by Josep Borrell has prepared a dossier of 70 pages full of falsehoods and distortions to combat the Catalan pro-independence movement abroad.

The document includes a list of 45 “habitual” pro-independence movement “slogans” which the Ministry for Foreign Affairs classifies as “fakes.” The document contradicts each case with falsehoods and distortions.

For example, the document only acknowledges three injuries during the October 1, 2017 independence referendum. However, the official data provided by the Catalan health department puts it at 1,066 people, many of whom needed medical assistance and some even hospitalization.

The dossier also suggests that the “Catalan pro-independence movement” is not peaceful and considers the peaceful demonstration in front of the Catalan Department of Economy on Sept. 20, 2017, (in which nobody was injured) a “seige.” Numerous organizations have pointed out that this demonstration was just a peaceful exercise of the right to protest.

Catalan civil society leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez were jailed and accused of sedition and rebellion for that demonstration. Organizations such as Amnesty International have repeatedly condemned this and called for their immediate release.

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The document explains that there aren’t any political prisoners, despite the fact that Amnesty International has published several reports saying that “the charges against Cuixart and Sànchez are unfounded and must therefore be dropped. If it can be shown that they called on demonstrators to prevent police from carrying out a lawful operation, this could constitute a prosecutable public order offence. But accusing them of such serious crimes as rebellion or sedition and detaining them for a year is disproportionate and an excessive restriction of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.” Thus, it is clear that the jailed Catalan leaders are in prison for their ideas, not their crimes, therefore they are political prisoners.

The dossier also violates the presumption of innocence of former Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, saying that her “illegal” acts “deprived Catalans of rights, and violated mandates” of courts. 

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Regardless, to the extent that the imprisoned Catalans have been convicted of no crimes, the dossier violates the European Convention on Human Rights’ Article 6 (“Right to a fair trial”).

Per the CoE, “Art. 6§2 prohibits statements by public officials about pending criminal investigations which encourage the public to believe the suspect is guilty.” In this case, it’s more than just oral statements. It’s publishing and actively distributing documents implying guilt.

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Another chapter refers to the Spanish far right-wing party Vox as a “conservative” party and defends their presence in the Independence Trial as a private prosecutor. The body has indicated that this document is only one of many materials that are taken into consideration in its work “to face the threats to the reputation of Spain.”

As has been demonstrated above, this dossier appears to have been fabricated with the sole intention of manipulating public opinion.

 

 

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The ANC Urges the Catalans to Use the Mobilizations of the Independence Trial Verdict Response to “Take Strength” to Resume Unilateralism

Last week, the President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Elisenda Paluzie, urged the Catalans to use “the impulse of the upcoming Independence Trial verdict” to make demonstrations capable of forcing the Catalan government to recover unity and re-make a roadmap for independence.

Paluzie also said that according to the roadmap of the ANC, unilateralism must be resumed when pro-independence parties get over 50% of the total votes in a Catalan general election. In this regard, she said that unilateralism is “complex” and that it must be “reinforced” with the legitimization of the votes.

The President of the ANC admitted that there is “disparity” within the pro-independence movement, but that has also occurred on other occasions, such as in 2012 and 2013. For this reason, she insisted on calling for unity “in the face of the foreseeable condemnation of the political leaders and entities that serves to resume the path to independence and bring the objective back on the top of the agenda.”

Regarding the discomfort expressed by ERC with ANC’s strategy in the last few weeks, Paluzie pointed out that “it depends on the moment and the strategy adopted, the ANC may disturb one party or another.” She also made it clear that if there were people who ever insulted ERC leaders in a demonstration, it is an “isolated fact that the ANC does not support at all […] we have to be very hard in the content, but very elegant in the forms,” added Elisenda Paluzie

13 International Observers Denounce Violation of Human Rights During the Independence Trial

The International Trial Watch (ITW) platform has published thirteen reports of human rights activists and jurists around the world who attended the Independence Trial.

Each report written by these observers is autonomous. The ITW has not intervened in the drafting and has limited itself to coordinating and grouping them in this publication.

The authors of the reports include John Philpot – Canadian lawyer, Paul Newman – Indian philosopher and former spokesperson for the People’s Tribunal/Court of Sri Lanka, Bill Bowring – European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights, Jelle Klaas – Nederlands Juristen Comité Voor De Mensenrechten, Patrizio Gonella and Susanna Marietti – Antigone, Matthieu Cretenand – University of Geneva, Cécile Brandely and Claire Dujardin – French Lawyers’ Union (AED), Ernesto Moreau – Argentinian lawyer, Sahar Francis – Defense and Human Rights Association Addameer, Cristina Servan Melero – Pro-Human Rights Association of Andalusia, Ramón Campos García and Ana Sebastián Gascón – Free Association of Lawyers of Zaragoza, and Joseba Belaustegi Cuesta – member of the Basque platform Jurists for the Right to Decide.

John Philipot, for example, considers that “The essence of this trial is to criminalize the exercise of civil and political rights. The Spanish state is treating these twelve politicians and social leaders fundamentally as a single criminal organization as if they were drug traffickers or an organized crime syndicate.”

Paul Newman concludes that “the only violence that occurred during the 2017 October 1st independence referendum was committed by the Spanish police and the Civil Guard, not the Catalan government.” He also points out that “everyone has the inherent right to self-determination.”

Jelle Klaas, who focuses his argument in the case of Jordi Cuixart, says “Arresting, detaining, and prosecuting Cuixart and asking for a 17 years prison sentence, in essence, is the fact that he made use of his human rights to protest.”

Claire Dujardin defines the trial as a “judicial farce.”

Sahar Francis of the Defense and Human Rights Association Addameer, an expert in the defense of Palestinian political prisoners in the military courts, comes to assure that “some of these practices [witnessed at the Supreme Court] are very similar to those of the military prosecution of the occupation.”

All experts agree that in Spain fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, are being violated, and that it is affecting the entire Spanish population. They also affirm that the essence of the trial “is to criminalize the exercise of civil and political rights.”

The Constituent Citizen Debate to Begin in Autumn

Catalan President Torra and Lluís Llach, the head of the advisory council for the promotion of the Civic and Social Forum for the Constituent Debate, announced last week that the debate on the Catalan constituent process will begin in September with seven thematic training days in seven cities across the country.

Llach insisted that the objective was not for civil society to create a Catalan constitution, but come to a consensus to inspire the parties to create it elaborate hypothetical constituent parliament with no date. “The ultimate goal of this process is to debate which country we want, no more.” The constituent debate will have three phases:

1- The territorial platforms formed by entities that the Council has already helped to create after a set of meetings with all regional associations. They will focus on growing.

2- From November to March of next year discussions, based on question and answer sessions will be convened across Catalonia. This system should allow the opinions to be processed and quantified to determine the consensus.

3- The Civic and Social Forum will be convened to synthesize all the territorial debates. Then, they will submit the results to the Catalan Parliament in April.

The results of this Constituent Process should allow the Catalan Parliament to write the future Catalan Constitution.

The International Trial Watch (ITW) Observers Platform Presents its Own Report on the Independence Trial to the UN

The International Trial Watch (ITW) observers platform has presented its own report on the Independence Trial to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the occasion of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) that will be held on Spain at the session of the Human Rights Council in January 2020.

This is a Shadow Report, which is sent by NGOs to different UN bodies for reviewing the status of human rights amongst the various UN State Members.

In thirteen pages, the report brings together the human rights violations committed by Spain and the police and judicial repression against the independence movement since 2017. The first part shows the violent response of the State against the 2017 independence referendum. The second part shows the criminalization of the right to protest of the Catalans and also condemns the accusations of rebellion and sedition against jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, both in preemptive prison for over two years, for participating in peaceful demonstrations in September 2017 as leaders of the two pro-independence civil society organizations Òmnium and ANC respectively. A third part shows the allegations of violations of defense rights during the Independence Trial, demonstrating that the defendants have not had a fair trial with an impartial tribunal or even with the competence to judge them.

This document will be part of the test that Spain will send in January. It is a procedure that all UN Member States submit every four years. The situation of human rights of the state in question is reviewed, regardless of the ratification of international treaties.

The exam consists of a dialogue between the members of the Human Rights Council and the state examined, in this case Spain. The test ends with recommendations from the members of the council to the State, which must indicate whether to accept them totally or partially, or if they do not accept them.

International Trial Watch (ITW) will be able to participate in a session that will be organized in Geneva later this year. On this day, the permanent delegations of the states in Geneva and the NGOs and entities that have sent written contributions will meet.

If, at the end of all this procedure, there are some recommendations to Spain for having violated human rights against the independence movement, this can be important in political and image terms, but not judicially since this is not binding.

International Observers Find Violation of Numerous Human Rights and Legal Procedures During the Catalan Independence Trial

The organization of international observers Trial Watch – Catalan Referendum Case (ITW) has concluded in its preliminary report that the trial of the 12 independentist leaders held at the Supreme Court over the past few months is a “political cause” in which “fundamental rights such as free assembly, political participation and freedom of expression have been violated.” The group also considers that there is no basis for condemning political prisoners for rebellion and seditious crimes, and that they have been “reworked” to adapt them to the Criminal Code.

The ITW concludes that organising citizen demonstrations was not capable of “transforming the constitutional order or preventing the legitimate public authority from carrying out its functions,” since in this case a state of siege had been applied. The conclusions of the report also make a special mention of the cases of the former president of the ANC, Jordi Sànchez, the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart and the former president of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell: “Your behavior cannot be criminal because it was protected in the exercise of fundamental rights, such as the right of assembly or freedom of expression.”

The ITW also considers that the investigation carried out by prosecutor Javier Zaragoza in the National Court on November 5, 2015, has shown that it is a general cause: “The object was to investigate the entire Catalan political movement,” which is forbidden in the Spanish legal system.

More than 30 human rights organizations support the 20 points with which observers summarize the most important violations in the trial. Although not part of the process after the Supreme Court questioned the quality of observers, the group of experts hopes that the judges will accept the criticisms in the report. They also expect their analysis to help the defendants continue their path to European courts after the ruling, which will be known in the coming months.

Jailed Catalan leader Jordi Cuixart: “The solution to the problem of blind obedience is civil disobedience”

The President of the Catalan grassroots and pro-independence organization Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, said on Thursday that “the solution to the problem of blind obedience is civil disobedience.” In a letter that was read during the opening of the first days on civil disobedience organized by the entity, Cuixart explained that in order to reverse the “dramatic” situation that society suffers from, it is necessary to train “even more” and to exercise the practice of non-violence.

“To instruct us is essential because the powerful know how to criminalize the protest and cause dissent by putting us traps,” he argued. From the prison of Lledoners, he told the conference attendees that “we will do it again” and cited “constant, persevering and full of courage mobilization.” “The only battle that is lost is the one that is abandoned,” he concluded at the end of the letter.

Mauri, vice-president of Òmnium, also intervened in the conference to say that injustices in society must give rise to “non-violent civil disobedience.”

“We are in a moment of regression of rights. Civil disobedience is the most useful and legitimate instrument for the situation we are experiencing. Given the situation of the degradation of rights that we suffer in Catalonia, Spain and Europe, we understand that the committed, mobilized and organized citizens have the obligation to face it.”

Mauri emphasized that Cuixart’s phrase “we will do it again […] is not just a slogan, but is a guide for the coming years. All rights are defended by exercising them. We have a duty of citizenship, of civic commitment and moral obligation to defend them when they are violated, tried or condemned.”