The Spanish Government has cast doubt on the ‘impartiality’ and ‘independence’ of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention report made public on Wednesday, which demanded the ‘immediate’ release of three Catalan pro-independence leaders.
In a statement, the government led by Socialist Pedro Sánchez stated that it is ‘especially serious’ that the paper was published ‘shortly before the case against the defendants is over in the Supreme Court’.
‘It is a sad circumstance that could be interpreted as interference in the criminal case underway.’
The Catalan Trial is expected to be over by mid-June, with only the closing arguments by both the defence and prosecution teams, and the final remarks of the defendants yet to take place between 4-11 June.
Spain also called on UN officials in charge of supervising the working group to ‘strengthen the accuracy, independence and equanimity of their work, and to remain vigilant in facing the attempts of manipulation and misinformation to which they might be subject.’
Madrid alleged that the report is not accurate, claiming that its authors ‘do not know what crimes [jailed leaders Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart] are accused of in Spain.’ Yet the paper does state that they are accused of rebellion – a charge considered ‘disproportionate’ by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.
The report says the imprisonment of three pro-independence officials is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and the right to equal access to public services in their country.
The UN working group also considers that claims in favour of self-determination are being suppressed by detaining them, and says that trial is not fair nor the judges impartial.
The defendants’ presumption of innocence is also questioned, due to ‘political interference’ observed.
Therefore the authors of the report demand the ‘immediate’ release of Junqueras, Sànchez and Cuixart and that they be paid compensation.