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Shameful double standards of the German government in the Catalan question

Prof. Dr. Axel Schönberger

Oct 13, 2018 — 

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert, in response to a question from the television channel RT German, explicitly stated one year after the brutal police action of the Spanish state in Catalonia on 1 October 2017 — it was illegal under Spanish law — that the German Federal Government regards monarchical Spain as a «democratic constitutional state», assumes that there are no political prisoners in Spain and otherwise trusts that the Spanish judiciary will correctly process all proceedings.

It is evidence of cynical double standards when, on the one hand, Germany loudly denounces the violation of human rights and the political instrumentalization of the judiciary in other, non-European countries, but on the other hand, in the case of a member state of the European Union and strategically important NATO member, it buries its head in the sand and pretends to be a «democratic constitutional state» in Spain's case, although within Spain alone over the last year more than a hundred professors of law as well as former judges of supreme courts have publicly pointed to the massive violations of Spanish law by the Spanish government and the, in their opinion, unacceptable violations of Spanish law by supreme courts of Spain, stressing in particular that it was not permissible to detain Catalan politicians on charges of «rebellion» and to investigate them, since it was generally known that the element of considerable violence against persons, which the Spanish Penal Code required for such action, had at no time been carried out by the Catalan politicians accused.

It seems unknown to Mr Seibert that Spain, like Germany, has subjected itself to the mandatory international law (ius cogens) of the two major human rights pacts and enshrined them in its constitution. Perhaps he does not even know — although he could read about it at any time in the Federal Law Gazette of the Federal Republic of Germany — what rights are guaranteed to all people — including the Catalans — by these two international pacts.

Not the Catalans, but the so-called ‘Spanish Constitutional Court’, which also has de facto legislative and executive power (!) and which declared the referendum of 1 October 2017 to be ‘illegal’ only about two weeks after its implementation, has with this decision visibly violated the Spanish Constitution and mandatory international law incorporated into the Spanish Constitution.

But even if Spain were not a member of the United Nations and had not subjected itself to the mandatory law of the two great human rights pacts, even if the Catalan politicians currently imprisoned had violated the Spanish constitution, neither in Spain nor in Germany would a violation of the constitution justify such a long imprisonment, let alone a conviction. This requires the implementation of offences defined in the penal code in force at the time of the alleged offence. And such a violation has not yet been proven to the detained Catalan politicians. A state that illegally deprives elected democratic politicians and members of the government of their immunity in free elections, a state that deposes a government, a state that dissolves a parliament, a state that illegally sets up new elections, the result of which it then tries to thwart with legal tricks, is neither a «constitutional state» nor a «democracy». It is an ‘injustice state’ that terrorises at least some of its citizens. No more and no less.

Obviously, government spokesman Steffen Seibert has learned little or nothing from the German past and does not know where the border between a «democratic constitutional state» and an «unjust state» lies, which arbitrarily breaks its own legal order and overrides it, which invents criminal offences which have no basis in the applicable penal code, which violates its own organic (constitutionally supplementing) law — the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia which has constitutional status in the Spanish legal order has been and is seriously violated — and, moreover, is corrupt to the core.

Germany bears a heavy historical responsibility for the fact that it made it possible for the brutal Spanish mass murderer Francisco Franco to defeat the Catalan countries (Catalonia, València and Balearic Islands) militarily and then to oppress them for many years. By stubbornly asserting against all (publicly known!) facts that Spain is a «democratic constitutional state», and by simply denying the massive violations of human rights which the Spanish state committed in Catalonia, the German government in fact represents a new concept of human rights which, according to the German view, should no longer be universal, but particular, alienable and divisible.

Such a policy is nothing other than the application of a cynical double standard, according to which important allies of Germany can break the human rights at will, while opposite states, which are to be discredited in the public opinion, quite the public reproach of human rights violations is raised. Such a policy of double standards will damage Germany's reputation in the world in the long term. It also undermines the foundations of the European Union, whose most important cornerstone is the respect for human rights, and agrees with all those critics who see the European Union not as a Europe of peoples, but as a Europe of states.

The Catalans are citizens of the Union. In fact, however, they are currently treated by the European Union and also by Germany like «second-class people», not to say like «subhumans without human rights», whose human rights can be violated or deprived by the Spanish state at will, without Germany protesting against it, since Spain, according to the German Federal Government, would be a «democratic constitutional state».

Those who think and speak like government spokesman Steffen Seibert have learned little or nothing from the German past. Apparently, according to the new doctrine of Germany and the European Union, human rights no longer apply if it is in the state interest of a ‘friendly’ state to violate or withdraw them. What is now granted to Spain will not be credibly denied to other countries in the future. It is shameful that a spokesman for the government of the Federal Republic of Germany should not only not criticize the massive human rights violations in Spain, but even justify them!


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