Read in Catalan

The actions of the Public Prosecutor's Office against the Catalan mayors in favour of the referendum is worrying the European communications director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), the powerful NGO dedicated to investigating and defending human rights around the world, similar to Amnesty International.

Andrew Stroehlein, the communications director, tweeted:

Stroehlein links to an article from Yahoo News, which duplicates a dispatch from Agence France-Presse, called "Spain threatens to arrest over 700 Catalan pro-referendum mayors". Normally, HRW retweets Stroehlein to their 3.48 million followers, but not in this case.

HRW bases its influence on the extensive and detailed reports about the human rights situation in the countries it's active in or on some more general issue (the use of cluster bombs, for example); less on having a large following or carrying out actions on specific cases like Amnesty.

Their latest dispatch about Spain alerts to the hostility of Spanish nationalist media against the defence lawyers of the suspects after the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. "Spain’s government and major party leaders need to loudly defend these basic principles," the report concludes.

Human Rights Watch, a private organisation that doesn't receive any funds from any start, was created to monitor the Soviet Union's observance of the Helsinki Accords, signed in 1975. It shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize as a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Its budget in 2014 increased to 57 million euros.

Stroehlein has been writing for two decades on violent conflicts, post-conflict situations, authoritarian regimes and post-authoritarian transitions and the role of the media in all of these. Previously, he had been communications director for the International Crisis Group.