Carme Forcadell, Raül Romeva, Andreu Van den Eynde and Laura Castel have visited Strasbourg to denounce the violation of civil and political rights in Catalonia
Esquerra Republicana brought the Catalan case before the Council of Europe on Monday. Former Speaker of the Parliament of Catalonia Carme Forcadell, Raül Romeva, formerly a Catalan government minister and an MEP, and legal counsel Andreu Van den Eynde have travelled to the seat of the European institution in Strasbourg to denounce the violation of civil and political rights in Catalonia. The event was organized by senator and sole pro-independence member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Laura Castel.
Before an audience of members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and other international officials and parties, the representatives of Esquerra delivered three key ideas:
- Defence of democratic principle: advocating independence is a peaceful movement that represents human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
- The independence movement advances two fundamental claims by the people of Catalonia: the end of repression through amnesty, and the exercise of the right to self-determination through a referendum.
- Criminalisation of a political cause: Spain has responded to the demands of the Catalan people with the use of force and lawfare. The factional use of the rule of law has led the State to violate fundamental rights.
Raül Romeva recalled its origins to validate that the independence movement defends a democratic principle, a principle understood by advocates for independence as the ceasing of political repression by means of an amnesty, and the exercise of the right to self-determination in a referendum. “When I was a member of the European Parliament, I fought for the fundamental rights of many countries in the world,” Mr Romeva explained, affirming that although he was not an advocate of independence at the time, he ended up in prison for the cause of the Catalan Republic. “Why does someone like myself risk going to prison? For democratic convictions,” he asserted. “We spent almost 4 years in prison for holding a referendum, which is the instrument that should allows us to know what people think,” he railed.
For her part, Carme Forcadell appealed to the audience decrying her case: “The Spanish judiciary has violated my right to parliamentary immunity, because allowing a debate in Parliament, which is what I did, must be protected under the principle of free speech and parliamentary immunity.” “Can you imagine that a court should forbid you to talk about an issue that you think is important or that the people demand? Or that you should be prosecuted for holding a debate? That cannot occur in a democracy, but it has occured in Spain,” Ms Forcadell told the parliamentarians.
Lawer Andreu Van den Eynde listed the breaches of rights that the Spanish State has accrued by criminalising the case against the independence movement. In addition, Mr Van den Eynde pointed to the Catalangate scandal, the largest case of massive illegal cyberespionage ever revealed, and of which he is a direct victim. “I personally am not political active in any way, I am not affiliated with any party, but I am a victim of Pegasus only because I defend my clients,” he explained.
Hosting the event was Laura Castel, who as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recalled the position of international institutions – including the Council of Europe itself, and others such as the United Nations – on the Catalan case so far. “Do you think that condemning politicians for organising a referendum limits their freedom of expression? Do you think organising a referendum is violent? How far should the State go to restrict it?” Ms Castel asked of the parliamentarians present. “It should never be considered an internal matter,” she defended.
Around thirty parliamentarians were present, and also the Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe, Christos Giakoumopoulos.
During their stay at the headquarters of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, the Esquerra Republicana delegation will meet the Chair of the ALDE Group, Romanian Iulian Bulai, and the Vice-Chair of The Left in the European Parliament, Nikola Villumsen of Denmark, as well as taking part in the Unified European Left Group meeting.