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The Catalan pro-independence civil group Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and an international group, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), have jointly registered a report with the United Nations denouncing the violation of civil and political rights in Spain and calling for the release of the Catalan pro-independence political prisoners, a demand that has already been backed by the UN's Working Group on Arbitration Detention.

The report has been submitted for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council which is currently considering the human rights situation in Spain. The UPR is a mechanism created by the UN which regularly assesses whether member states are fulfilling their obligations in terms of respecting fundamental rights. 

Decline in human and political rights

The ANC, with the support of UNPO, has prepared a report "in relation to the deterioration in the human rights in Spain included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and more specifically, the violation of the civil and political rights that are part of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." Both of these treaties were signed and ratified by Spain.

The document underlines the persecution of political representatives and pro-independence activists in Spain. It focuses on the violations that are occurring regarding a whole series of right and freedoms: the right to a fair trial, the freedom of assembly, the right to protest, the right to public participation, the right to a language and culture, the right to liberty and to security of one's person - which includes among its elements, the prohibition on arbitrary detention.

Release of the political prisoners

The report also calls for the Spanish government to immediately implement the recent request made by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAP) with regard to the Catalan political prisoners. In two separate opinions released in the last few months, the WGAP defined the continuing imprisonment of seven pro-independence leaders as arbitrary and unjustified, and thus called for the release of Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull and Dolores Bassa.

The plenary session at which the formal reviews will be made is set down for January 2020, when the Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council meets. The review of the situation in Spain will take place on Wednesday, January 22nd and at that point Spanish authorities will have to respond to whatever conclusions the Council reaches.

The ANC's partner in presenting the report, UNPO, is an organization established in 1991 to empower the voices of unrepresented and marginalized peoples worldwide and to protect their fundamental human rights. It currently has membership from 45 peoples all around the world, comprising over 300 million people lacking true representation in domestic or international forums.

Also being presented to the UN human rights review on Spain will be the report by the international observer group International Trial Watch on the recently completed Supreme Court trial of the 12 pro-independence Catalan leaders, along with reports by lawyers' associations Col·lectiu Praga and Drets.

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