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Amnesty International has warned in a very forceful statement aimed at Spain that even if the Spanish government grants pardons to the Catalan political prisoners, "the human rights violations persist".

However, the coordinator of Amnesty International in Catalonia, Adriana Ribas, has stated that the human rights organization would welcome "any measure that would put an end to the injustice of imprisonment" of the two pro-independence civil society leaders, Òmnium Cultural president Jordi Cuixart, and Catalan National Assembly's former president Jordi Sànchez. At the same time, she recalled that the pardons only mean that the prisoners are excused from serving their sentences, and do not imply "the annulment of the sentence, which in our opinion should happen".

Ribas said this after the organization visited the two prisoners on Thursday to discuss the Spanish Constitutional Court's rejection of their appeals against the Supreme Court's decision to jail them for nine years for an offence of sedition.

The organization once again stated its concern about this situation, indicating that it will explore all possibilities to continue to denounce violations of their human rights - such as freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly - including monitoring of the appeal process which is being initiated before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Blow to Spain

Amnesty International noted with regret that the Spanish judiciary has failed to take into account the conclusions drawn by several international human rights mechanisms, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the ECHR, to the effect that nonviolent direct actions, including acts of civil disobedience, are protected by the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, even when they constitute a violation of the law, provided they are not committed violently.

The organization also called on Spain to "urgently review the definition of the crime of sedition in the country's Penal Code to ensure that it does not criminalize peaceful acts of civil disobedience or unduly restrict freedom of peaceful assembly or expression."

"The vagueness of the definition of the crime of sedition and its overly broad interpretation constitutes a violation of the principle of legality contained in Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights which leads Amnesty International to express its concern about the sedition sentences imposed on Sànchez and Cuixart and the Catalan political leaders," said Esteban Beltrán, director of Amnesty International in Spain.

Both Sànchez and Cuixart thanked the organization for its support through tweets.

jordi sanchez TUIT

"Amnesty International's support in the face of the violations of my rights caused by my imprisonment makes it clear that human rights in Spain are not guaranteed. The pardon, if it comes, will not bring these violations to an end. Thanks, Amnesty International Catalonia." - Jordi Sànchez.

TUIT cuixart

"The shared struggle for human rights continues; from civil society, and whatever might happen, we will persist in exercising and defending the fundamental rights of all citizens." - Jordi Cuixart.

Main image: Òmnium president Jordi Cuixart and ANC ex-president Jordi Sànchez / Photo: ACN