Members of the Council of Europe have spoken out against both the arrest in Sardinia of Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and the broader issue of "repression" and "harassment" of the Catalan independence movement. Around twenty members of the Council, the European continent's leading human rights organisation, released a statement criticizing the action of the Spanish Supreme Court and calling on the Spanish state to withdraw the European Arrest Warrants against the exiled Catalan pro-independence politicians. "The Supreme Court strategy puts in jeopardy principles of solidarity among members of the European Union space", said the Council members.
The initiative was driven by an ERC member of the Spanish Senate, Laura Castel, and bears the signatures of another 20 members of the Council's Parliamentary Assembly from a dozen different countries. Both Catalan president Pere Aragonès and foreign minister Victòria Alsina shared the development on Twitter.
The declaration is entitled "Harassment against Catalan pro-independence political leaders and independence supporters must end".
The signatories assert that they are "deeply concerned about the ongoing repression happening since 2017 against pro-independence supporters" and, in particular, about the recent arrest of Puigdemont in l'Alguer arising from the European Arrest Warrant issued by Spain.
According to the text, the judicial strategy of the Supreme Court of Spain "puts in jeopardy principles of solidarity among members of the European Union space" and violates fundamental human rights. "It has failed in Germany, Belgium, Scotland and, hopefully, in Italy," the signatories stressed, just hours before Carles Puigdemont was due to testify before the judge in Sardinia.
In the same vein, they recalled that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has "previously recognised that extradition or irregular lifting of immunities should not be abused" as an attempt to "silence disruptive initiatives".
A debate that must not avoided
For all these reasons, these members of the Council call on the European institutions not to avoid this debate any longer, "including on self-determination", and should use the means available to ensure parliamentary representation.
"We call on Spanish authorities to immediately withdraw the existing European Arrest Warrants and extradition orders against all Catalan politicians in exile," they conclude, demanding "an amnesty for all those judicially harassed" and as well calling for "active negotiations to take place" to find a "safe solution" to meet the aspirations of Catalans.
Such a solution, they say, should be "in line with the recommendations drawn last June by the Assembly". On June 21st this year, the Council's full Parliamentary Assembly voted by a large majority in favour of a comprehensive motion addressing Spain and calling for the release of the pro-independence prisoners, an end to the persecution of the politicians in exile, and a series of other recommendations on the Catalan conflict.
Among the signatories are members of the Council who are German, Belgian, French, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Turkish, Greek, Cypriot, Irish and Italian:
Ms Laura CASTEL, Spain, UEL ; Ms Nerea AHEDO, Spain, ALDE; Ms Gökay AKBULUT, Germany, UEL; Ms Petra BAYR, Austria, SOC ; Mr Fourat BEN CHIKHA, Belgium, SOC; Mr François CALVET, France, EPP/CD; Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU, Cyprus, SOC; Mr Sokratis FAMELLOS, Greece, UEL; Mr Paul GAVAN, Ireland, UEL; Mr Ólafur Þór GUNNARSSON, Iceland, UEL; Mr Andrej HUNKO, Germany, UEL; Mr Momodou Malcolm JALLOW, Sweden, UEL; Ms Mai KIVELÄ, Finland, UEL; Mr George LOUCAIDES, Cyprus, UEL; Mr Gianni MARILOTTI, Italy, SOC; Mr Hişyar ÖZSOY, Turkey, UEL; Mr Thomas PRINGLE, Ireland, UEL; Mr Roberto RAMPI, Italy, SOC; Mr Stefan SCHENNACH, Austria, SOC; Mr Søren SØNDERGAARD, Denmark, UEL; Ms Feleknas UCA, Turkey, UEL.
Early this afternoon, the Sardinian court opted to suspend the European Arrest Warrant procedure against the exiled Catalan president, without setting any new date for a further hearing, while it awaits two EU justice decisions: the EU Court of Justice's ruling on several preliminary questions presented by Spanish judge Pablo Llarena, as well as the EU General Court's decision on the claim for interim measures filed last week by Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí to regain their immunity as MEPs.
Carles Puigdemont was allowed to go freely with no impositions on his freedom to travel.