In a speech in English, the Catalan MEP and exiled president of his country, Carles Puigdemont, has once again put the Spanish state at the centre of European debate. Following a report on violations of international law committed by Turkey, Puigdemont noted in the European chamber this Tuesday that there are EU member states such as Spain that show an equally grave disrespect for the international order. "How do you expect Turkey to take us seriously if there are European Union states like Spain that are doing exactly the same thing?" the MEP questioned.
One of the points of the European report on Turkey notes that "the Turkish judiciary also ignores decisions taken by UN mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Committee and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention." "This same working group issued two reports calling for the release of Catalan political prisoners, but Spain did exactly the same as Turkey: it ignored them," recalls Puigdemont.
The UN report on arbitrary detentions in Catalonia
On May 29th, 2019, the Working Group against Arbitrary Detention, under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council, issued a report calling for the release of Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart when they were in pre-trial detention prior to sentencing of trial.
The report considered their arrests arbitrary and called for their release "without delay" because it considered it violated the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also demanded compensation and a "thorough and independent" investigation. A second report by the UN Working Group a month later came to similar conclusions with regard to four other jailed pro-independence politicians.
The reports were an initiative of British international law and human rights lawyer Ben Emmerson, who in February 2018 asked the working group to confirm or not whether the pre-trial detention situation violated fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
However, Spain did not do as requested by the multilateral institution and the Supreme Court trial judge, Manuel Marchena, criticised the report. For this reason, the Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, has likened the situation in Spain with that in Turkey. “How can we criticize Turkey for doing the same as EU member states do?” he asked.