Read in Catalan

Catalonia once again appears in the annual report summarizing the human rights situation around the world issued by the NGO Human Rights Watch, which this year lists includes the rights violations of Catalan independence supporters spied on by the Spanish state with Pegasus software. The document, published this Thursday, lists the multiple violations of fundamental rights perpetrated in Spain, such as the situation of "hot returns" of immigrants at the border with Morocco and, in particular, the deaths of dozens of people attempting to migrate to Spain's North African territory of Melilla enclave, in circumstances that have not yet been clarified. In the "Surveillance and Right to Privacy" section, it includes the findings of the Catalangate investigation, which showed that "the phones of at least 65 people, including Catalan and Basque pro-independence politicians, lawyers and civil society activists, had been infected with spyware." The report also details how the evidence points to the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) as responsible for the large-scale hacking, and the less than satisfactory measures taken by the state to remedy these violations of privacy and the right to the defence.

HRW denounces Catalangate and points to the CNI

In the 2022 report, HRW reports the sequence of events related to the Catalangate revelations. The text reports that "subsequent reports suggested that the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) was responsible for the hacking" of the devices of pro-independence leaders and people close to them. They also include that "the Ombudsman's investigation into the matter concluded that the CNI's actions had been in accordance with existing law, but encouraged an assessment of whether the legislation governing the surveillance was adequate". In addition, they note the dismissal of the director of the CNI and her replacement by the Spanish government, after receiving "more reports of espionage attacks". As for the measures taken by the Pedro Sánchez executive, they include that the promise to restructure the Spanish intelligence and change the secrets laws have been questioned. "Cybersecurity experts and human rights groups criticized whether the measures taken were sufficient to address the lack of oversight," they conclude.

The Melilla massacre 

One of the most disturbing facts that HRW includes in its 2022 report is the massacre at the Melilla border fence, which resulted in the violent deaths of a still unknown number of migrants, allegedly at the hands of Moroccan authorities and, possibly, in Spanish territory. In the document, they denounce the silence of the Spanish government and the judiciary in the face of the requests from NGOs and international organizations to investigate the facts in more depth. In addition, they denounce the illegality of the constant "pushback" or "hot returns" made at points like these, whereby migrants entering Spanish (and EU) territory illegally are simply sent straight back.