On the Catalonian Referendum

The Bureau of the Association “AVOCATS EUROPEANS DEMOCRATES” (AED) -created 30 years ago and which has brought together associations and unions of European lawyers committed to the defense of the rights of people- has met in Berlin and notes with concern some of the reactions of the Spanish administrative and judicial authorities against the decision of the political authorities and the citizens of Catalonia to celebrate on the 1st of October a referendum on self-determination approved by a law of the Catalonian Parliament and organized by its government. The reaction of the Spanish government has been to challenge its validity, while the Spanish Constitutional Court suspended the law.

Regardless of the debate on the legal validity and the political value that may result from such a referendum, provisionally suspended by a court of constitutional guarantees, and regardless of the debate if the suspension of the referendum automatically means to prevent violently its effective celebration, in these days we are witnessing restrictions on the fundamental rights of the citizenship, often without judicial intervention, such as the freedom of expression, the freedom of information, the right of assembly, the secret and integrity of communications and the right to the natural judge predetermined by the law, going far beyond measures characteristic of a state of emergency.

Thus, the public mail service, without judicial authorization, has withheld correspondence for its content; public initiatives to discuss the referendum have been suspended; citizens have been identified and detained for the only reason of publicly defending their political ideas; print material has been seized, together with the red carnations, which were distributed to emphasize the peaceful character of the Catalonian proposal for political change. More than 700 Catalan mayors have been summoned by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, who has opened criminal proceedings against Catalonian Parliamentarians, as well as all the Catalan Government in full. Printing presses haven been registered without previous judicial order and the media has issued coercive police warnings.

These are signs of the democratic weakness of the Spanish State and are part of a repressive strategy that denies politics as an instrument of change. The AED considers this corresponds to an undemocratic violation of fundamental rights and demands the Spanish State to reinstate these political and civil rights immediately.

 

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