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Spain has decided to remain in breach of the United Nations resolution on the rights of the convicted pro-independence Catalan leaders, after the UN ruled in 2022 that Spain had violated the political rights of Oriol Junqueras, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull and Jordi Turull. The Spanish government has simply responded to the United Nations Human Rights Committee that it was unnecessary to take any additional measures beyond the publication of the aforementioned UN opinion on the website of the Spanish justice ministry, as reported by the newspaper Ara this Monday and confirmed by Spanish executive sources to the ACN agency.

In the resolution, published in August last year, the UN had demanded that Spain "adopt all the measures necessary to prevent similar violations from being committed in the future". On this matter, the Human Rights Committee gave the Spanish government 180 days to respond - a deadline that has just passed. Accordingly, last Friday the office of Spain's state solicitors limited itself to replying that it understands that the dissemination of the opinion is already sufficient reparation and implies full compliance with the United Nations claim. In other words: the state executive considers that it is not necessary to take any further measures because the opinion already indicated that the UN resolution constituted "sufficient reparation for the attributed infringement". The Spanish government thus considers that it has closed the matter with the publication of the document.

The UN decisions

Almost four years after the events, the UN Human Rights Committee last August published its decision on the complaint made in December 2018 by Junqueras, Romeva, Rull and Turull against the Spanish state. The human rights body of the global organ found that Spain had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 by suspending the four pro-independence Catalan politicians from their positions as members of Parliament. The suspension took place in July 2018, while they were being held in pre-trial detention, and long before they were tried, in the 2019 Supreme Court trial.

The precise words of the UN 2022 ruling on Spain's required actions over the violation were these: "The state party (Spain) is under an obligation to take all necessary measures to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future" and in addition the UN informed the Spanish authorities that it "wished to receive, within 180 days, information on the measures it had taken."   

Thus, now that those 180 days have gone by, the Spanish government has not taken any measures to prevent the political rights of pro-independence activists from being violated again, and it has informed the UN accordingly. Nor is it the first time that the state executive has failed to comply with the rulings of UN bodies in relation to the pro-independence political prisoners. In May and July 2019, in two separate decisions, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions declared that the pre-trial detention of the Catalan pro-independence leaders was arbitrary; one year later, it recorded that Spain had failed to comply with the rulings - neither releasing the prisoners, nor granting reparations for the violation of their rights. Now, history seems to be repeating itself.