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Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams has suggested the trial of Catalan pro-independence leaders​ is putting human rights at risk in Spain and around the world. Williams attended court in Madrid this Tuesday, after which she warned that peaceful demonstrations "are being criminalised", as is the right to freedom of expression.

Williams, from the US, also defended "people's right to give their opinion on their future", saying that to do otherwise is to "kill a human right". She also criticised the Spanish state's "fear" of dialogue with Catalonia and said that the way to respond to a "political problem" cannot be through the justice system and what she described as a "farcical trial".


The peace prize winner had been proposed by counsel for Jordi Cuixart as a defence witness, but the court didn't accept it. When it comes to those who are able to give testimony, she criticised the ban on "showing evidence which counters a police officer who is lying".

Speaking to the media outside the court, she asked "how can you say that that is justice?" and described her sadness at the situation. "I believe that the most important thing for a government is to promote and support its people's human rights", she said, accusing Spain of being more concerned with territorial unity.

She warned that questioning fundamental rights like those of demonstration and expression is dangerous for the rest of Spain's citizens, and beyond: "because of the rise of authoritarianism across Europe [...] and around the world, every time a state succeeds in doing these things, it puts at risk the human rights of other people around the world".

Williams won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work in banning anti-personnel landmines; she later became chair of the Nobel Women's Initiative with five of her fellow living female recipients of the peace prize. She was among the signatories of the 2017 manifesto "Let Catalans Vote".