Council of Europe rapporteur Cilevics regrets there are still open cases in Spain for the 2017 independence referendum and urges reform of the crimes of rebellion and sedition

Esquerra applauds this opinion recalling there are still political exiles, and recommends that Spain conducts a thorough investigation into the Catalangate scandal

Boriss Cilevics, the rapporteur for the report “Should politicians be prosecuted for statements made in the exercise of their mandate?” today presented his latest opinion on compliance with the document and in regard to Resolution 2381 (2021), adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 3 June 2021.

In the report, Mr Cilevics laments the existence of a great number of trials still pending against high-ranking Catalan Generalitat government officials regarding the 1st October 2017 referendum, as well as the persecution of political exiles. The rapporteur is also concerned about the admission of the appeal against the pardons for the political prisoners. Mr Cilevics concludes that the reform of the crimes of sedition and rebellion in the Spanish Penal Code is of “crucial” importance.

The rapporteur of both reports also notes in his latest that a thorough investigation into the Catalangate scandal is necessary and recommends Spain establishes a Congressional investigation committee. Mr Cilevics believes that addressing the crisis deriving from the case of espionage using Pegasus, as identified by Citizen-Lab, could help rebuild trust in the state.

Nor does Mr Cilevics’ review shirk from assessing the financial persecution by the Court of Auditors. In this regard, the rapporteur mentions the criticism heaped upon this organ for its “politicization and nepotism.” The Court of Auditors is in fact not part of the Spanish judiciary since it is not formally a judicial body. Mr Cilevics also criticises that the Amnesty Bill introduced by the Catalan political parties in Congress was considered “inadmissible” and was thus not even debated.

Furthermore, it should be noted that most of the Spanish representatives at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe tried until the last moment to prevent making Mr Cilevics' latest opinion on these issues public, which surprised many in the committee. “They wanted to keep the progress report a secret,” said Laura Castel, a senator for Esquerra and sole pro-independence member of the Parliamentary Assembly, “keeping the truth and Spain’s disgrace in the dark.” The senator added that “after the debate, many of the members were surprised that Spain wanted to keep this document classified.”

The Spanish representatives wanted to keep the monitoring report secret.
Laura Castel Member of the Council of Europe for Esquerra Republicana

Mr Cilevics considers that Spain needs to take further steps against repression

In addition, the rapporteur referred to the pardons granted to the political prisoners as “partial,” alluding to the ineligibility that still weighs on all of them. He also regrets the possibility of the pardons being revoked. Which is why, as the subsequent report states, it is urgent to reform the Spanish Penal Code in regards to the crimes of rebellion and sedition.

As for the exiles, Mr Cilevics considers that not having withdrawn the requests for extradition is inconsistent with the approval of the pardons, explaining that continuing the persecution against them is “contradictory to the spirit of coexistence and harmony” expressed by the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez when granting the pardons.

Thus, while the document welcomes the Spanish government’s pardons, especially since political prisoners have not been forced to give up their political choices, the Council of Europe notes the need for Spain to continue making progress against repression in order to ensure compliance with the Council’s standards.

The rapporteur finally recommends, as it did in its June 2021 statement, that Spain finds democratic avenues to resolve the conflict, “without resorting to criminal prosecution.”

Ms Castel: “Spanish democracy is deficient”

Esquerra is pleased with Mr Cilevics’ position and demands that Spain continues to take steps against repression. “Such a position on the part of a Council of Europe rapporteur should be a serious warning for Spain,” says the senator and only pro-independence member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Laura Castel. “If Spain wishes to comply with democratic standards, it must follow the recommendations of the Council.” In addition, Ms Castel points out that this new report “is a sign that international organizations are on top of the defence of human rights,” and adds that “they will not lose sight of the Catalan case”. The senator praises all the work done by Republicans in bringing human rights violations by the Spanish state to the Council of Europe: “At Esquerra Republicana, we have long said that Spanish democracy is deficient.”

In the report approved by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe a year ago, titled “Should politicians be prosecuted for statements made in the exercise of their mandate?”, the Council of Europe recognized that the jailed pro-independence leaders were political prisoners; it called on Spain to reform its Penal Code, specifically regarding the crimes of rebellion and sedition; it acknowledged that there had been no violence by the public during the 1st October 2017 referendum; and it proposed the path of dialogue and democratic resolution.