EU: no more silence!

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The European Union has proclaimed the Rule of Law principle and the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms to be binding on its Member States (Articles 2 and 6 of the Lisbon Treaty). The EU’s leadership has been a staunch protector of these fundamental norms. However, we are deeply concerned that the EU’s governing bodies are condoning the systematic violation of the Rule of Law in Spain, in particular regarding the Spanish central authorities’. The Union has declared that the conflict between the Catalan government and the Spanish central  government is an internal matter for Spain. Issues of national sovereignty are indeed a matter of domestic politics in liberal democracies. However, the manner in which the Spanish authorities have been handling the claims to independence expressed by a significant part of the population of Catalonia constitutes a 
violation of the Rule of Law, namely:


1)  The Spanish Constitutional Tribunal banned the referendum on Catalan independence scheduled for 1 October, as well as the Catalan Parliament session scheduled for 9 October. With this decision Tribunal has violated Constitutional provisions on freedom of peaceful assembly and of speech.


2) In the days preceding the referendum, the Spanish authorities undertook a series of repressive actions against civil servants, MPS, mayors, media, companies and citizens. The shutdown of Internet and other telecom networks during and after the referendum campaign had severe consequences on exercising freedom of expression.


3) On referendum day, the Spanish police engaged in excessive force and violence against peaceful voters and demonstrators, according to Human Rights Watch. Such disproportionate use of force is an undisputable abuse of power in the process of law enforcement.


4) The arrest and imprisonment on 16 October of the activists Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez (Presidents, respectively, of the Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural) on charges of sedition is a miscarriage of justice. The facts resulting in this incrimination cannot possibly be qualified as sedition, but rather as the free exercise of the right to peaceful public manifestation, codified in article 21 of the Spanish Constitution.

5) The arrest and imprisionment on 2nd November of Vicepresident Junqueras and 8 other Catalan Ministers on charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement is again a miscarrige of justice and the judgment was not done in proper conditions (e.g.: the blatant disregard for due process; the fact that Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional is not the competent court of law to hear the alleged crime that the government has been charged with, as the court itself ruled in 2008; General Attorney Maza making no attempt to uphold the rights of the defendants, even though he is supposed to and the fact that Puigdemont’s legal counsel was denied access to the statements of the other defendants, which rendered him defenceless. Furthermore, Judge Lamela ordered the defendants to be imprisoned with no regard for the fact that they were unlikely to flee. Finally, the secrecy of communications was violated, a blunder so gross that the entire process might be declared null.)

The Spanish government, in its efforts to safeguard the sovereignty of the state and indivisibility of the nation, has violated basic rights and freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as by Articles 2 and 6 of the basic law of the EU (the Lisbon Treaty). The violation of basic rights and freedoms protected by international and EU law cannot be an internal affair of any government. The silence of the EU and its rejection of inventive mediation is unjustifiable.
We want the EU to act urgently and specifically:

1) demand the Spanish government to free all the political prisoners immediately.

2) demand the Spanish government to not allow the acts from far-right groups.

3) demand the Spanish government to stop the application of the Article 155 and the repression in Catalonia.

This is an European matter and the EU with her silence should not be accomplice of the violation of Rule of Law by Spain.

 (This text is part of the letter that 185 politicians, intellectuals, academics and MEPs have signed an open letter to European Commission President Juncker and European Council President Tusk. Read here the original )



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