Thursday, May 30, 2019

Arbitrary detention in Spain

Twelve Catalan politicians are currently on trial in Madrid on charges of "sedition" and "rebellion" over Catalonia's 2017 independence referendum. Many of them have been held without bail since their arrest almost two years ago. But now, a UN working group has concluded that their detention is arbitrary:

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council, has released an opinion on the pretrial detention of Catalan leaders Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart concluding it to have been arbitrary and calling on the Spanish government to "adopt the necessary measures to remedy the situation [...] without delay". They go on to suggest that "the appropriate remedy would be to immediately release" the three.

The report finds that their imprisonment without bail violates international rules, including parts of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Besides being released, the group says the three should be "conceded the right [to] compensation" and that the government should "carry out an exhaustive and independent investigation [...] and adopt the appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of their rights".

Its unprecedented in modern Europe for a democratic state to be the subject of such a finding. But then, so is beating people and shooting rubber bullets at trying to vote. Naturally, Spain is outraged that the UN is calling it out for its undemocratic, authoritarian practices. And in doing so, the Spanish government sounds just like its fascist forebears.

The trial itself is expected to wrap up in a few weeks time, and we all know what to expect: convictions and long sentences for those who dared to stand up for democracy. Spain clearly thinks that that will make Catalans become good little subjects again. I doubt it. Instead, it will become another justification for independence: to escape Spanish injustice.