Three of those jailed for their role in the Catalan independence struggle will take their case to UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
THREE IMPRISONED CATALAN LEADERS, including Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, will take their case to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, their lawyers announced on Thursday (1 February).
In addition to Junqueras, who is in custody pending an investigation and who has been repeatedly denied permission by Spanish courts to attend to new session of the Catalan parliament, pro-republican grassroots activists Jordi Sanchez of the ANC and Jordi Cuixart of the Omnium Cultural will also be joining the appeal.
“Their detention by Spain is an affront to human rights, designed to prevent them from performing their role as political representatives of the Catalan peoples.” Lawyer Ben Emmerson
All are imprisoned for their involvement Catalonia’s controversial independence referendum of 1 October last year, while the Spanish constitutional court deemed illegal and has refused to recognise, despite the subsequent proclamation of an independent republic by the Catalan parliament and the victory of pro-independence Catalan parties in a special election held on 21 December last year.
Speaking to press in London, lawyer Ben Emmerson said of the three imprisoned Catalan leaders: “Their detention by Spain is an affront to human rights, designed to prevent them from performing their role as political representatives of the Catalan peoples.”
Emmerson continued: “This case does not ask the UN to adjudicate on the issue of Catalan independence but seeks the UN’s reaffirmation that governments cannot repress political dissent through arbitrary detention.
“Spain must release these men.”
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The UN panel is composed of independent human rights lawyers, and previously attracted international attention and controversy when, in 2016, it ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had been “arbitrarily detained” at Ecuador’s London embassy after he sought asylum from arrest there. However, the panel’s findings are not considered binding under international law.
Emmerson has claimed that the imprisonment of the three is in contravention of international law, describing the charges as “purely political”.
“The actions of the Spanish state set a dangerous precedent… around the world,” said Emmerson, arguing that they belong to “a bygone era in Spanish politics that we thought had long-time vanished”.
If the UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention rules in favour of the three, Emmerson stated that he expects the UN “to put all the necessary pressure on Spain” to secure their release.
Picture courtesy of Josep Puigdemont
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