The resolution by 5 special rapporteurs of the United Nations in response to a communication sent by Esquerra Secretary General Marta Rovira, shows the concern that “criminalization” has become a “systematic model."
Five United Nations rapporteurs determine that Esquerra Republicana suffers extreme reprisal as an organization and urge the Spanish government to take measures to cease the political “persecution” of the party and of independentism. The position of the United Nations is in response to a communication submitted by Esquerra Republicana Secretary General Marta Rovira on behalf of a representation of victims who are party members, denouncing the effects of repression against independentism.
Ms Rovira's communication contained an update apprising of the grievances regarding political repression exercised by the Spanish State against the independence movement. This permanent dialogue with the United Nations is one of the centrepieces in the international litigation strategy advanced by the Secretary General in her exile in Geneva. The strategy has had positive results, with many statements by international human rights organizations, such as the position of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Pegasus or the report of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on freedom of expression, among others.
Political persecution, economic repression, and espionage
The United Nations rapporteurs show concern about the facts denounced by Esquerra’s Secretary General and what they say is “improper use of criminal law and the supervisory power of the State to prosecute leaders and members of civil society who sympathize with Esquerra Republicana.” They also warn of the risk that “criminalization” of this group of people can “become a systematic model” for the construction of a general cause against independentism. Likewise, the rapporteurs warn that the events reported “may constitute a serious violation of the freedom of association and peaceful assembly”.
The international institution expresses concern at the “persecution and stigmatization” of Esquerra Republicana members, their “right to an effective defence, and an impartial, transparent and effective hearing” of the cases against them, as well as regarding “the factual and legal basis” for the arrests and charges against them. The “proportionality” of the penalties is also questioned, along with the economic repression and the fact that improved penitentiary conditions have been linked “in exchange for the cessation of the exercise of certain rights or political opinions,” which is considered “worrying” in regard to eventual “repentance” for actions that “respond to their political opinions.”
In addition, it demands that all political parties in the Spanish state must be able to “carry out their functions freely” and that their members may “carry out their activities in a safe and conducive environment, free from interference”, including “cyber espionage,” alluding to Pegasus spyware.
Moreover, the United Nations demands that the Spanish government clarifies this set of grievances and report on the measures it will take in this regard.
It reaffirms the democratic legitimacy of our causeMarta Rovira Secretary General of Esquerra Republicana
In this regard, Esquerra Republicana Secretary General Marta Rovira affirms that “United Nations substantiates the arbitrary use of certain instruments by the Spanish State to quell independentism,” that is “by political repression, and demands that the Spanish Government takes the necessary measures to halt this.”
Ms Rovira adds that this new communication by the rapporteurs “must be useful to once again reaffirm the democratic legitimacy of our cause. We have the right to defend the Catalan Republic through democratic means,” she concludes.
The document is signed by the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of assembly and of association, on freedom of opinion and expression, on the independence of judges and lawyers—speaking on this occasion for the first time on the Catalan case, and on human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.