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4 de maig 2017

Lawyers' manifesto upholding the right of the citizens of Catalonia to hold a referendum to decide the political future of Catalonia

Original text: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-d6U96ftQVaWDQyNTZ4dldQcEk/view

1. More than two thirds of the CITIZENS of Catalonia have for a long time been calling for a REFERENDUM to decide their future as a country. Likewise, a large majority of the REPRESENTATIVES of the people of Catalonia clearly defend this option and have put the issue repeatedly and in various ways, but always without success, to the institutions of the Spanish state. The undersigned, serving lawyers in various sectors, believe that the LAW, as an instrument of conflict resolution, has to FACILITATE THE RESOLUTION of this situation through a democratic procedure. The LAW is the precise instrument that has over history channeled the development of all societies, observing them and listening to them.

2. In a DEMOCRATIC LAWFUL STATE, such as Spain, it is the INTERNAL CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK that allows the citizens to propose substantial changes in the political and territorial organization, and that provides instruments to channel this democratic aspiration . This has been recognized in Canada and the United Kingdom, where Scotland and Quebec have held, within the respective constitutional frameworks, referenda on secession.

3. The Spanish Constitution recognizes the DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE as a principle that structures the political and legal system, which allows limits to be imposed to the decision-making powers of the majority on dissident minority. The democratic principle makes it possible for the exercise of rights not to depend on majorities, as it is the way for minorities to be permanently protected; it thus provides a democratic opportunity to groups that for demographic reasons cannot become majority. The current constitutional system does not exclude from legality individuals or groups who have an idea of the law or of social or territorial organization that differs from or is contradictory to that of the Constitution.

4. Consequently, WE AFFIRM that inside the constitutional framework and thanks to the democratic principle, a right is recognized - which we call the "right to decide" - which grants its holders the authority to openly DISAGREE with the established constitutional order and  also with territorial unity, to PROPOSE ALTERNATIVES expressed through a democratic process - usually a referendum, in the countries in our part of the world- and to CARRY OUT the result obtained, through negotiations with representatives of the State.

5. The position of the undersigned, therefore, in this debate on the process, is to give full support to the holding of a referendum on the future of Catalonia as a political community. We - as well as others - hold that this referendum fits within the Spanish constitutional framework because, given that it is a lawful and democratic state, it provides sufficient instruments to channel this conflict. We also consider that a CONTINUOUS REFUSAL of the State would legitimize OTHER AVENUES for the citizens of Catalonia to sayd how they want to decide their future.

6. We declare that the holding of this referendum is not only LEGITIMATE, because it is called for by a vast majority of the citizens of Catalonia, but also LEGAL, because the RIGHT TO DECIDE of the citizens of Catalonia is based on the Spanish Constitution and on the weighting of its structural principles: the rule of law and democracy, alongside the unity and sovereignty of the Spanish people. For this reason, the referendum can also be LEGALLY DEMANDED of the State.

7. Finally, we believe that the LAW can never be a blocking mechanism for a society; on the contrary, it has to be the TOOL capable of coping with the concerns, the developments and transformations of the entire community, providing answers that can facilitate progress and peaceful coexistence.

Translation: M. Strubell

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