Some twenty UN member states make recommendations for Spain to protect fundamental rights during the Human Rights Council review.
Spain has undergone an examination at the United Nations. The assessment, known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), evaluates its member states on the degree of compliance with human rights. In their statements, several member countries of the Human Rights Council –the evaluating body– warned Spain about the excesses of its security forces, and recommended that it ensure freedom of expression and the right to assembly and demonstration.
In this regard, countries such as Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, Macedonia and Mexico recommended that Spain investigate cases of police excess. Switzerland also asked for a protocol for best police-force practice to be established, saying –literally– that Spain has yet to overcome its Francoist past. These countries also suggested that Spain shield and protect the right to freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the freedom of expression. Countries such as Colombia, Iceland, Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Germany also joined in this particular demand. The United States even asked Spain to answer to violations and offenses against journalists.
Countries like Belgium went one step further, and after asking Spain to take measures to secure rights of assembly and demonstration, recommended that they review the definition of certain crimes in the Penal Code and adjust them to international criteria. In the same vein, Canada called on Spain to decriminalize offenses against the Crown and to revise the Citizen Security Act, also known as the "gag law". Venezuela meanwhile spelt out the need for Spain to promote a constructive dialogue with the Catalan people and its institutions.
"As democrats, what we do is to defend the exercise of these human rights, and more specifically, of those that we see violated today against this general cause against pro-independence supporters”.Marta Rovira Secretary General of Esquerra Republicana
The Secretary General of Esquerra Republicana, Marta Rovira, who attended the United Nations session, stated from Geneva that "it is necessary to continue working in the field of human rights". "As democrats, what we do is to defend the exercise of these human rights, and more specifically, of those that we see violated today against this general cause against pro-independence supporters”.
In addition, the representatives of the member states of the Human Rights Council recommended Spain work to promote measures that guarantee the right to asylum and refuge, as well as to penalize discrimination, hatred and xenophobia. Many countries also emphasized the need to continue working for gender equality and the eradication of violence against women.
For its part, Spain defended itself by arguing that national law does not provide for restrictions on the right to assembly and demonstration or to freedom of expression. These rights can only be suspended in the event of a threat to the physical integrity of people or properties, said the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, representing Spain. He also said that the police only act when the demonstrations are no longer peaceful and that they do so proportionally.