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Spain violated Catalan independentist leader’s political rights, UN rules

Spain violated current MEP and former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s political rights – and those of his constituents – by stripping him of his regional parliamentary seat, the UN Human Rights Committee ruled on Thursday.

The Committee concludes that the suspension of elected representatives “for alleged crimes based on public and peaceful acts” cannot be considered compliant with the requirement that they be “based on reasonable and objective grounds”.

This decision “confirms the violation of the political rights of the exiled president, thus calling into question the democratic reputation of Spain,” a communication from Puigdemont’s cabinet reads.

Spain’s decision was approved by the Supreme Court in 2018, grounded on the court proceedings against Puigdemont following the 2017 independence referendum deemed illegal by Spanish authorities.

The UN Human Rights Committee, composed of 18 independent experts, monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Being a party to the Covenant and the Optional Protocol to the Covenant, Spain is bound by the committee’s decisions arising from individual complaints.

According to the decision, Spain’s move to suspend Puigdemont from his seat violates article 25 of the ICCPR, which the Committee qualifies as “the essence of democratic governance”, guaranteeing citizens’ rights “to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives” and “to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors”.

The Committee further asks Spain to “publish and widely disseminate” the decision and gives the country 180 days to inform back the Committee of the measures it has adopted to implement the ruling and reparations, as well as efforts to prevent similar violations from happening in the future.

In this case, however, the Committee deems the ruling itself as a “sufficient” reparation, and thus Spain is not required to restitute Puigdemont’s parliamentary seat or to provide compensation.

(Max Griera EURACTIV.com)

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