UN says Spain violated rights of Catalan politicians over independence vote

Geneva, Switzerland, Aug 31 (EFE).- The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled Wednesday that Spain violated the rights of former members of the Catalan government and regional parliament when Madrid suspended them from their public duties before they were convicted in 2019 for organizing and participating in an independence referendum two years earlier.

The UN advisory body, whose rulings are non-binding, supports a complaint filed in 2018 by former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras and former ministers Raul Romeva, Josep Rull and Jordi Turull, who alleged that the suspension of their functions without a prior conviction violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The 18-member panel of independent experts pointed out that the complainants were suspended after being charged with the crime of rebellion – which requires a violent uprising – despite the fact that they had urged citizens to remain peaceful. They were eventually convicted in 2019 of sedition, which does not imply the use of violence.

“The Committee took an important step in affirming that the safeguards against the restrictions of political rights must be applied more rigorously if these restrictions occur prior to, rather than after, a conviction for an offense,” Committee member Hélène Tigroudja said, adding that “the decision to suspend elected officials should rely on clear and foreseeable laws which establish reasonable and objective grounds for the restriction of the political rights, and must be applied based on an individualized assessment.

“Such an approach and safeguards are the best way to ensure respect for institutions and to promote the rule of law in a democratic society.”

While the opinions of the committee are not binding, the body’s decisions and recommendations are expected to be implemented by signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including Spain, a spokesperson said. EFE


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