17th October 2019
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Spain asks UN to disqualify 2 members of panel

The Spanish government is to formally ask the United Nations to disqualify two of the five members of the UN panel responsible for writing a report on the imprisonment of three Catalan pro-independence leaders.

It follows the government casting 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 Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart.

Spanish diplomats in Geneva claim there is a ‘conflict of interest’ between two members of the UN’s panel and the jailed leaders’ defence teams.

The Spanish ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Cristóbal González-Aller, announced the request, which affects the Mexican José Guevara and the South Korean Seong-Phil Hong, both members of the UN’s working group.

Jailed Catalan leaders
Yellow ribbons in front of photos of jailed leaders Jordi Sánchez, Jordi Cuixart, Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn at a Catalan National Assembly event on 25 February 2018 (by Maria Belmez).

The diplomat argued that ‘there is a conflict of interest’ between these experts and the British lawyer Ben Emmerson, who is believed to be defending the three Catalan politicians.

Meanwhile, Catalan President Quim Torra has sent the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez a letter on Friday in which he stated that the jailed leaders had to be freed for moral and humanitarian reasons since, according to him, their imprisonment is ‘arbitrary’ and contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Catalan president also asked the Spanish government to open an ‘exhaustive and independent’ inquiry into their detention to ensure the accountability of those responsible. Attached to his letter, he included a copy of the UN Working Group’s opinions.

The Spanish government has responded to Torra’s letter by stating that the issue is a judicial matter that is entirely dependent on the Spanish judiciary system and not the government.

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