Esquerra Republicana defends the Amnesty Bill's compliance with democratic standards before the Venice Commission

Esquerra Spanish Senate spokesperson Sara Bailac charges that “those who do not meet democratic standards are the part of the Spanish Judiciary that persecutes Catalan independence activists for their ideology”

Last Thursday, Esquerra Republicana met with a delegation from the Venice Commission, a Council of Europe advisory body. This was one of a series of meetings scheduled with several Catalan and Spanish political parties following a request by the People's Party for a report on the Amnesty Bill. Among those attending the meeting was Esquerra's Spanish Senate spokeswoman Sara Bailac; Senator and Criminal Law expert Joan Queralt; Senator and PACE member Laura Castel; and Esquerra Deputy Secretary General for Rights, Freedoms and the Anti-Repressive Struggle, Marta Vilaret. The meeting, held at the Spanish Congress, was also attended by Congresswoman Pilar Vallugera.

In a subsequent press conference, Esquerra detailed the issues regarding the Amnesty Bill which they conveyed to the members of the Venice Commission. Ms Bailac said they defended that the draft “complies perfectly with the Spanish legal system and respects the democratic standards of the rule of law, also in the European sphere.” Ms Bailac has decried that “those who do not comply are the elements of the Spanish Judiciary that persecute Catalan independence activists for their ideology.” She likewise detailed aspects of the bill that demonstrate it respects “the principles of legality, equality, separation of powers and effective judicial protection contrary to what the People's Party says, seeking only to provoke discord,” she retorted.

Ms Bailac wished to make it clear to the Venice Commission that in the face of the falsehoods sown by the People's Party about the Amnesty Bill and the attempt by the politically right-wing judiciary to criminalize the independence movement, “the Amnesty Bill is necessary, it is legitimate, and it returns the political conflict to the political arena.” In this regard, Ms Bailac conveyed to them that the bill has “the support of a bolstered majority in the Spanish parliament, as well as the majority of the people of Catalonia.”

Furthermore, Senator Laura Castel explained to them how the Amnesty Bill is the result of “a path of negotiation” to resolve the political conflict between Spain and Catalonia, which began years ago and which has responded and progressed regarding all those anti-repressive issues that Esquerra Republicana has been raising. In this regard, she evoked the recognition by the Spanish State of the political conflict, the pardons and the reform of the Penal Code to repeal the crime of sedition, a process that “has now materialized in this Amnesty Bill.”

Finally, Ms Bailac disclosed that the Venice Commission delegation took an interest in a fact that it was unaware of, one that affects the passage of the law, which is the “express reform” of the Senate's rules that the People's Party pushed through to “obstruct the passage of the Amnesty Bill,” and which Esquerra does not consider “appropriate.” “That is why we presented the reconsideration of the reform before the Bureau of the chamber, along with all the other parliamentary groups,” she explained. Ms Bailac was satisfied she was able to report this “irregular procedure” to the Venice Commission.