The Council of Europe’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has published the follow-up report to its previous resolution regarding Spanish political issues. The resolution, issued in 2021, called for the release of Catalan political prisoners, legal reform involving sedition, and the end of repression against the independence movement.
In the report, the EU Council rapporteur, Boris Cilevičs, criticizes the extradition orders against Catalan exiles; and the possible overturning of the pardons given to the political prisoners.
“It would be very unusual and unfortunate if the pardons, once announced and implemented to release the nine prisoners, were annulled,” Cilevičs said.
Cilevičs also denounces the fact that the Spanish state has not reformed the crimes of sedition and rebellion in the penal code.
“The reform of the rebellion and sedition laws cannot be postponed too long,” he said, regretting that it was not on the Spanish government’s agenda presently. According to him, this reform is key to Spain’s compliance with Council of Europe standards.
The vast majority of the recommendations made in the report approved in June last year have not been implemented by the Spanish authorities. Even pardons – the only decision made in line with the recommendations – are now threatened by the Supreme Court.
On the extradition orders, the rapporteur criticizes the fact that they are still maintained, especially after the pardons were granted.
“The arrest warrants and extradition requests make no sense, in view of the pardons granted to the nine Catalans imprisoned for the same reasons for which those living abroad are demanded,” he said.
The report refers to the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the temporary restoration of the immunity granted to the exiled MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Antoni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí. It was considered that “they were in serious danger of being arrested” and this temporary immunity will be in place until the Spanish judiciary withdraws the court orders issued against them.
In addition, he believes that the state must ensure that the charge of embezzlement “is applied in a way that a person is liable only when effective and quantified losses can be proven in the state budget or assets.”
The rapporteur criticizes the fact that the lawsuits against low-ranking officials for the 1-O remain open, as well as that the successors of the imprisoned pro-independence leaders who have been penalized for “purely symbolic actions that express their solidarity with the detainees.”
The report also mentions “Catalangate,” which considers a fact linked to the 1-O crisis. According to the rapporteur, it is necessary to investigate cases of espionage using the spyware Pegasus in order to “restore confidence in Spanish institutions.”