Amnesty International: At the end of the oral trial, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez should be released on bail

Amnesty International have once again called for the immediate release of the Catalan civil society leaders Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart from provisional detention. In a press release on their Spanish website entitled “Concluido el juicio oral, Jordi Cuixart y Jordi Sánchez deben ser puestos en libertad provisional“, they say they have written to the Spanish Prosecutor to demand the release of the Jordis, and express concern about the nature of the criminal offences of which they have been accused. This is a translation of the full press release.

At the end of the oral trial, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez should be released on bail

18 June 2019

Since we were informed of their imprisonment, Amnesty International has repeatedly stated that Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart should be released immediately. Now, the conclusion of oral trial before the Supreme Court is the time to review their situation of provisional detention and proceed to release them. Both have been in provisional detention since 16 October 2017. The Spanish courts have denied their release on numerous occasions. The organisation has sent a letter to the Public Prosecutor, insisting on this once again, and regrets that yesterday they were informed negatively against the release of Jordi Sànchez.

In its writs of 11 April and 14 May 2019, the Supreme Court referred to the development of the oral trial as “an element of indispensable deliberation” which advised ruling out Jordi Sànchez’s freedom, and recognised that any preventative measure involving the deprivation of liberty “is aimed, precisely, to ensure the defendant’s presence during the oral trial”.

With respect to Jordi Cuixart, the ruling of the Constitutional Court on 7 May 2019, which dismissed his appeal against the resolutions which denied his petition for provisional release, indicated that the said resolutions took into account the temporary proximity of the oral trial, in line with constitutional jurisprudence, which recognises as a legitimate aim of provisional detention ensuring the presence of the accused in the trial.

Amnesty International warns that, according to international standards of human rights, the longer provisional detention is prolonged, the greater the need for a rigorous examination to determine if it remains necessary and proportionate.

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Can the EU protect our fundamental rights?

This is a translation of an article I wrote for the Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “La UE pot protegir els nostres drets fonamentals?“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

Two and a half years ago, we Britons voted in the Brexit referendum.

As a democrat, I had always wanted to have the opportunity to vote, the opportunity to decide on our relationship with the European Union. But when this opportunity arrived, I did not know how to vote.

The European Union represents a great co-operation between countries, an economic power in which 28 nations can fight together for their interests, their economies, etc. For its citizens, the possibility of travelling and working in any European country is a right which makes the world – or, at least, the countries of this union – a little smaller and more open. Despite the mottoes of the far-right, were are all one race and we should be brothers and friends. We should live and work together.

At heart, I am a democrat. I believe in the sovereignty of national and regional parliaments. I believe, above all, in democracy. If the European Union wants to represent Europeans, before anything else it has to defend democracy and human rights. It has to defend these parliaments and rights with all of the strength which the member states give it. But it does not.

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VilaWeb: The Moncloa imposes change of name of El Prat airport to Josep Tarradellas

This is a translation of an article from Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “La Moncloa imposa el canvi de nom de l’aeroport del Prat pel de Josep Tarradellas“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

The Spanish Council of Ministers will today approve the change of name of Barcelona-El Prat Airport, which will be called Josep Tarradellas Airport. Sources at the Moncloa have confirmed the news, adding that ‘it is a decision which is loaded with symbolism, communicated to the Generalitat and the family’.

Indeed, the decision was communicated to the family, who were informed days ago and gave permission to use the name of President Tarradellas. But the Generalitat, according to sources in the Catalan Government, have not been able to have their say, and complain that the change was not agreed upon, recalling that there are naming commissions to manage and work on decisions like this one. The Catalan Government have requested that the Spanish Government rectify the decision and not go ahead with approving the change of name.

The General Secretary of ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia), Marta Rovira, as leader of Tarradellas’ party, has criticised the decision:

VilaWeb: MEP Carolina Punset leaves Ciudadanos criticising the party’s shift to the right and position on Catalonia

This is a translation of an article from Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “L’eurodiputada Carolina Punset abandona Ciutadans criticant la dretanització del partit i la posició sobre Catalunya“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

The MEP and former Ciudadanos (Citizens) organiser at the Corts Valencianes (the Valencian regional parliament), Carolina Punset has announced to the leadership that she is leaving the party. She did so in a strong letter, published by Spanish newspaper eldiario.es, in which she criticises the party’s turn to the right on economic and social questions, position towards Catalonia and change in energy policies.

Punset criticises that the party maintains a single political policy for a short period of time, which has made them forget ‘where they came from and where they are going’. ‘We have gone from holding mild policies against nationalism in order to look to secure the moderate catalanist vote to being “the most Spanish” of all,’ she says. According to Punset, from the beginning she defended ‘the idea of citizenship and civil patriotism across the territories’, which has been lost. ‘Walking with flags goes against the DNA of the Ciudadanos which I joined’, she laments.

‘I do not believe that anyone doubts my aversion to any form of nationalism or my Jacobinism, which I have unashamedly defended. However, that does not stop me from affirming that the situation of civil confrontation has reached the point where it is necessary to be open to listening to political opponents’, she says. Specifically Punset criticises the imprisonment of politicians and pro-independence civil society leaders: ‘Prison can never be good news.’

The MEP denounces that anyone who differs from Albert Rivera’s position is marked and spied upon, ‘as KGB agents did’. ‘They tell you off because you have spoken with Puigdemont, with people from ERC (the Republican Left of Catalonia), with anyone who is not from the 155 block. It’s a pity.’

Furthermore, she says that, as a feminist, she feels ashamed when they talk of ‘gender ideology’ or when ‘they consider acts which are really sexist terrorism as family violence’. She also criticises that they deny the need for electoral lists with parity of representation, ‘even though where they are not imposed there are not enough women represented’.

She adds that her guts churn when they suggest ‘regulation’ of prostitution, which she believes is a euphemism for legalisation, and legalising surrogate mothers. ‘Bearing in mind the cases of “women farms”, we must be more careful’, she believes.

She says that if it has taken her so long to leave the party, it is because she sees it as an injustice that it is her who has to leave ‘when it is the leadership which has made the political defection to be the white brand of the Partido Popular’. Punset will continue to be an MEP, now as an independent member of the liberal group.

VilaWeb: Puigdemont among the candidates to win the Nobel Peace Prize according to Time magazine

This is a translation of an article from Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “Puigdemont, entre els candidats a guanyar el premi Nobel de la Pau segons la revista Time“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

According to the north-American magazine Time, President Carles Puigdemont is in the running to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced Friday evening in Oslo. The award is given every year to the person or group which has contributed the most in the advancement of world peace.

“The figurehead of last October’s unofficial Catalan independence referendum has effectively been living in exile in Belgium since he fled the country to avoid arrest by Spanish authorities. The vote precipitated a crackdown by Spain that put hopes for an independent Catalonia on ice for the foreseeable future”, Time says.

Last year, the winner was the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and this year, in addition to Puigdemont, there are nominees such as Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, the leaders of North Korea and South Korea who are immersed in a process of opening of relations, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Pope Francis, among others.

This year there are 331 nominees for the prize, of which 216 are individuals and 115 are groups, according to the Nobel committee. It is the second highest number of candidates, after 2016.