A team of international lawyers has presented a petition against Spain in the name of Carles Puigdemont to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for "violating" his rights.
Puigdemont explained, in his statement yesterday evening, that the legal action is to denounce the Spanish state's "violation" of the "universal declaration of human rights and the charter of civil and political rights".
The full text of the complaint:
The application alleges that Spain has violated its international treaty obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Specifically, Puigdemont argues these treaties guarantee his "right to stand for elections", his "right to freedom of association with other secessionist politicians and political parties in pursuit of a common goal of securing independence from Spain for Catalonia" and his "right to freedom of peaceful political expression in support of the cause of independence for Catalonia".
He claims these rights "have been violated by cumulative and continuing conduct of the Kingdom of Spain" as, despite having been "effectively deposed" as president "by the Spanish government for his leading role in the Catalan independence movement", he won last year's election and "was elected by the Catalan Parliament for a further term as President". However, "Spanish authorities have frustrated his re-election" and "thereby over-ridden the democratically expressed will of the Catalan people".
As such, Puigdemont "has been forced to choose" between either "returning to Spain where he will inevitably be subject to arbitrary detention", "remaining as President in exile, thereby obstructing the ability of the Catalan Parliament to function, and permitting the continuation of direct rule from Madrid", or "standing aside to allow an alternative candidate to be nominated and invested as President". All this, "even though he has never been convicted of a crime or stripped of his political rights in a court of law".
Contrary to the law
Puigdemont's lawyer, Ben Emmerson, insisted* that the "offences which [the exiles and political prisoners] are accused of do not exist". He also repeated his regret that "Spain is acting contrary to the law" and compared the cases of Scotland and Catalonia, saying they show that Spain "is making a fool of itself".
Emmerson said that it's "as if the United Kingdom were to imprison Sturgeon or Salmond for holding a referendum and wanting independence". For this reason, he expressed conviction that "the international community will turn its attention to Madrid over Catalonia" and said that they "have to explain to the world how Spanish justice acts".
This is the reason behind today's appeal to the UN Human Rights Committee: to "invite the Committee to hold that [his] rights have been violated by cumulative and continuing conduct of the Kingdom of Spain". He also took the opportunity to again call for the release of the political prisoners.
* Translator's note: Unfortunately, I do not have access to Mr Emmerson's original quotes, so have had to back-translate from the Catalan. As such, they might not be precisely word-for-word.