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Amnesty International's latest report calling for the immediate release of jailed Catalan pro-independence leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart has fallen on deaf ears at the Spanish government. Two weeks after its publication, the Pedro Sánchez executive continues to excuse its inaction on the issue by pointing to the democratic separation of powers, and avoiding any mention of pardons, amnesties or even the two men's names. This was apparent from the response of Spain's minister of justice, Juan Carlos Campo, in the question session held in the Congress of Deputies this Tuesday when he was challenged on the subject by Catalan MPs Laura Borràs (JxCat) and Albert Botran (CUP).

 

"Do you think the government can simply go and open the cell? This is not the democratic and legal system we possess," the minister argued, noting that there is a "final" sentence against the prisoners and that it is now the Constitutional Court which is studying the case. Campo asserted that the government's job is not to "judge" and simply urged both the Catalan parties questioning him to introduce legislative reforms to reform the crime of sedition. A change which, as he recalled, the PSOE would go along with, but something which had to be done with the "necessary calm", and not "as a reaction" to a particular decision. 

 

In his right of reply, Botran accused the minister of making "excuses" and wanting to "wash his hands of the responsibilities" and he assured that with "political will" everything can be done - mentioning two of the clear paths that the Spanish government has at its disposition within the system for rectifying such wrongs: it can grant pardons to individuals convicted of criminal acts - something the minister chose not to mention - or it can work to change the law on sedition, for which, Botran asserted, the government is showing no political will, despite some of its rhetoric. There is also a third path - possibly more difficult - that the government could take: work to pass a law on a general amnesty against everyone facing legal problems for a broad issue. 

For her part, Laura Borràs complained that the question had not been answered by deputy PM Pablo Iglesias, to whom it was addressed, and she read a message from Jordi Sànchez addressed to the Spanish prime minister, in which he asked that the "gravity of the moment" - the coronavirus crisis - should not make him forget the resolution of the political conflict.

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