Politics 23/02/2021

Catalan government opens sanctioning file on Alfred Bosch for the case of alleged sexual harassment in the Foreign Office

On the other hand, it exculpates the secretary general of the department, Mercè Salvat

2 min
Image digitally treated from an archive photo, where you can see Carles Garcias Hernández with Alfred Bosch at a work meeting

BarcelonaIn two weeks it will be a year since the ARA uncovered the case of alleged sexual harassment in the Catalan Foreign Office. But it has not been until this Tuesday that the executive has finally decided to open a sanctioning file. This comes despite the fact that both the alleged harasser, Carles Garcias, and the then minister, Alfred Bosch, are no longer part of the Catalan government. The file will is exclusively against Bosch for not having activated the Generalitat's protocol for possible cases of harassment. In this case it affected several Foreign Office female workers.

According to several governmental sources consulted by this newspaper, after a report of the juridical services of Presidency, the executive council has approved to open a file on Bosch and to process an eventual sanction, which will be decided by the instructor to whom the case is assigned from now on. On the other hand, according to the same sources, the former secretary general of the department, Mercè Salvat, has been exonerated. Salvat was initially considered to have participated in the cover-up by the Civil Service secretariat.

The opening of the file comes after three different reports on the case. In August, the Civil Service, which depends on the Department of Digital Policies (under JxCat), made a report recommending sanctioning Bosch for his behaviour. However, the Government decided to ask for a second opinion -not mandatory- from the public ethics committee. This body, which has a majority of ERC members, opted not to sanction him. This provoked a fall-out between government partners and led vice-president Pere Aragonès to stop the debate in December in the executive council to ask for a third report on the issue. Aragonès requested the opinion of the Presidency's legal services before making the final decision. Once the content of this last consultation was known, it was decided to go ahead with the sanctioning file, as recommended by Civil Service.

On March 9, 2020, the ARA published that ERC dismissed Alfred Bosch's chief of staff, Carles Garcias, for alleged sexual harassment of the department's workers. The then Minister, however, resisted doing it and even tried to relocate him and did not activate the protocol against sexual harassment that exists in the Generalitat for these cases. Before the publication of the information, Bosch resigned from office. That is why in August, the Civil Service, which is responsible for these types of procedures, urged the government to open a disciplinary procedure against Bosch and the former secretary general of the department, Mercè Salvat, despite her being on maternity leave when the facts occurred.

Once the disciplinary proceedings had been opened, an instructor must be appointed to determine the type of sanction that may be imposed on Bosch. In the event that there are indications of a cover-up of a crime of sexual harassment, in addition to an administrative sanction, the executive will have to bring it to the attention of the Prosecutor's Office, that is to say, criminal proceedings could ensure.

ERC's internal investigation

Alfred Bosch was exonerated, at first, in the internal investigation that ERC opened on the matter. It concluded that when he resigned from his post he had already assumed political responsibilities for the case. However, the party leadership was forced in November to reopen the investigation in response to complaints from the women's secretariat, since, according to the party, they provided new information on the facts. In the last three months, however, the party has not reported any progress in this internal investigation.

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