The Vice President of the Government and Minister of Digital Policies and Territory, Jordi Puigneró, and the Minister of External Action and Transparency, Victoria Alsina, have demanded this Monday to the Government the liberation of the prisoners and the withdrawal of the Euro-orders after the Council of Europe (CoE) has approved the report that includes these demands. "Europe sends today a clear message to Spain: liberate the prisoners, withdraw the Euro-orders and stop the persecution of political representatives and public servants", said Puigneró in a press conference from Brussels. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has approved this afternoon, with 70 votes in favor, 28 against and 12 abstentions, the report entitled "Politicians should be prosecuted for statements made during the exercise of their mandate?" , drafted by Latvian Socialist MEP Boriss Cilevičs on the need to grant greater protection to freedom of expression and assembly of political leaders in Turkey and Spain. the rapporteur of the report has conducted a year and a half of research on the ground in Madrid and Catalonia to gather information on the situation of political prisoners. the assembly that voted on the resolution, which also includes the case of the persecution of politicians of the Kurdish people in Turkey, consists of 324 representatives of 47 European states.
In a conjoined appearance from the Government Delegation to the European Union, Vice President Puigneró described the approval of the report as a "political victory" that adds to the "judicial victories" of the various pronouncements of international justice regarding the cases of Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, Lluís Puig and Clara Ponsatí. "The ruling speaks of total freedom, neither partial nor reversible, and the end of the persecution of exiles", he stressed. For Puigneró, by approving this report the Council of Europe "tells to Spain that it must apply an amnesty" and has called on the Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez, to reflect "how he intends to respond to the CoE's recommendations". "It starts by prohibiting people from being able to vote and ends up together with Turkey in a report on human rights", affirmed the vice-president. For her part, the Councilor for External Action and Transparency, Victoria Alsina, has assured that "the high judiciary is dragging Spain into international isolation". According to Alsina, today's decision is "a new victory for Europe and a great defeat for the Supreme Court and the Court of Auditors".
What does the CoE report say?
The Cilevičs report calls on the Spanish State to "pardon or liberate from prison" Catalan politicians and withdraw extradition requests for those who are in exile. The text also urges to reform the crimes of rebellion and sedition to avoid "disproportionate penalties" and because "they cannot be interpreted to undo the decriminalization of the organization of an illegal referendum", recalling that in 2005 this crime was expressly decriminalized. Regarding the penalties for embezzlement of public funds, it is pointed out that they should only be applied when "real losses" to the State can be quantified. On the other hand, the resolution also includes the request to Spain to desist from the remaining cases against other lower charges in the case of October 1st 2017, as well as "refrain from punishing the successors of politicians imprisoned for symbolic actions ", in reference to the former President Quim Torra. Another of the demands of the Council of Europe in Spain is not to demand to renounce political opinions. As for the resolution of the conflict between Spain and Catalonia, the report adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe invites to initiate "an open and constructive dialogue with all political forces in Catalonia" to "strengthen the quality of Spanish democracy ".
This is not the first international organization who question the situation of political prisoners in the State: the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has already called for their immediate liberation, as well as Amnesty International, which did so for Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, and the U.S. State Department itself. These positions are in addition to the decisions of international justice in the case of the exiles.
The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 with headquarters in Strasbourg, France, with the aim of promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law on the European continent. The best known organ of the Council of Europe, which is not part of the European Union, is the European Court of Human Rights, or Strasbourg Court, which oversees the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights.