Source: AUN News
After reconsidering a complaint submitted by Oriol Junqueras I Vies, a former vice-president of Catalonia, and three former ministers, Raül Romeva I Rueda, Josep Rull I Andreu, and Jordi Turull I Negre, the independent human rights experts released their findings.
Prior to their convictions for the region’s 2017 attempt at secession, the four former Catalan separatist leaders were barred from holding public office and charged with the crime of rebellion.
Independence for Catalonia
In September 2017, the Catalan Parliament approved a measure allowing for a referendum on the region’s independence. The referendum took place on October 1st despite a suspension order from the Constitutional Court and police interference.
The statute and the referendum were both declared to be unconstitutional, invalid, and unenforceable by Spain’s Constitutional Court in the middle of October.
However, the Catalan Parliament proclaimed its independence, leading to its immediate dissolution by the Spanish government.
“Crime of revolt”
According to the group of experts, Mr. Junqueras and the three ministers were charged with the crime of rebellion, which includes calling for a violent insurrection against the rule of law.
Hélène Tigroudja, a committee member, said, “The Committee took a crucial step in clarifying that the safeguards against the restrictions of political rights must be enforced more strictly if these restrictions arise prior to, rather than after, a conviction for an infraction.”
The Committee believed that the decision to charge the four complainants with the crime of rebellion, which resulted in their automatic suspension prior to a conviction, was not foreseeable and therefore not based on reasonable and objective grounds permitted by law, especially in light of the fact that the four complainants had urged the public to remain strictly peaceful.
Officials may only be suspended under the Criminal Procedure Act if they are accused of insurrection. However, the Committee maintained, they were removed from their roles as Members of Parliament in July 2018.
The four former lawmakers claimed that their suspension from public service prior to any conviction violated their political rights under Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights while they were in pretrial detention. They presented their case to a committee of impartial UN-appointed experts.
The four of them were suspended in October 2019 after being found guilty of sedition, a crime distinct from rebellion in that it does not include violence.
“The decision to suspend elected officials should be based on clear and foreseeable legislation that establish justifiable and objective justifications for the restriction of the political rights, and it must be applied based on an individual judgement. The only way to guarantee respect for institutions and to advance the rule of law in a democratic society is with such a strategy and protections, Tigroudja continued.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network