Politics 03/06/2021

Council of Europe's Legal Affairs Committee calls on Spain to release prisoners and withdraw Euro-orders

The organism also urges the Spanish authorities not to demand that political prisoners renounce their political opinions

2 min
Outside the Council of Europe, Strasbourg

BrusselsThe Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe, an international body linked to the European Court of Human Rights that monitors compliance with human rights and democracy, has called for the pardon or release of Catalan political prisoners and the withdrawal of extradition proceedings against exiles. This is stated in the draft report prepared by the Latvian socialist deputy Boriss Cilevics, who has travelled to Madrid and Barcelona to prepare the report titled Should politicians be prosecuted for statements made in the exercise of their mandate? and which analyses the cases of Spain and Turkey.

In this text, which will be debated in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at the end of the month, the expert urges the Spanish authorities to reform the crimes of rebellion and sedition to avoid "disproportionate penalties for non-violent transgressions" and also criminalising "the organisation of an illegal referendum". In addition, it calls for "pardoning or freeing" Catalan political prisoners and "considering the possibility of abandoning the extradition processes" that weigh on Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí in Belgium. The commission goes even further and demands the withdrawal of charges against other low-ranking officials included in the trials and "refrain from sanctioning the successors of those imprisoned for symbolic actions that only express their solidarity with the detained", in reference to former president Quim Torra.

As for whether political prisoners have to publicly repent for their actions, the committee calls on the Spanish authorities not to demand it: "We urge the Spanish authorities to refrain from demanding that detained Catalan politicians renounce their political views in exchange for a more favourable prison regime or the possibility of a pardon". But it adds: "They could still be required to commit to pursuing their political objectives without using illegal means". In this sense, the committee recognises that "the mere expression of pro-independence opinions is not a reason to initiate criminal proceedings".

Finally, it calls for an open, "constructive, political" dialogue between Catalan political forces, whether they support independence or not, to "strengthen the quality of Spanish democracy" and in full respect of the constitutional order of the State.

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