Cercar en aquest blog

Compte enrere

4 de nov. 2017

Ensuring The Rule Of Law

This is an urgent appeal to the European institutions, by a private European citizen.

As soon as can I shall add links to each of my affirmations to back my arguments and claims.

Why urgent?

Because in the case of the treatment by Spain of the Catalan independence process, fundamental rights have been violated, as well as non-compliance and/or grotesques interpretation of Spanish laws.

Because two presidents of the collegiate boards of civil society organisations working through transparent, radically democratic and non-violent means towards an independent Catalonia were arrested and are being held without bail in Soto del Real prison, 600 km from their homes, under accusations of crimes which a host of legal specialists (including drafters of the articles of the criminal code now being applied) regard as proposterous. They face up to 15 years in gaol if found guilty.

Because eight regional ministers were also detained, by the same judge and are being held without bail in two other prisons, likewise 600 km from their homes, after being denied any space of time for their defence strategy to be discussed, simply for having implemented their electoral commitments with a parliamentary mandate, again on charges which a host of legal specialists (for the same reasons as before) regard as proposterous. Bail has been turned down on grounds which specialists regard as equally flimsy.(see here and here: http://www.juecesdemocracia.es/2017/11/03/garantias-y-derechos/ ).

Because international search warrants, and a request for extradition, have been issued against the President of Catalonia and four other regional ministers who have received no summons, and who have stayed in Brussels (Belgium) in order to inform the International community of the gravity of the situation, and such time as they receive assurances that, if the charges are not simply dropped on account of their political motivation, they will receive a fair trial.

Because the vengeful tone of the Prosecutor-General is evident by the (hidden) metadata file name of the press communiqué: "Más dura serà la caída" (the harder they fall) (ref).

Because among other things, "sedition" and "rebellion" under Spanish law require violent uprisings which have by no stretch of the imagination taken place. Not a hair of a single official has been touched, far less at the behest of any of the 20 politicians involved in this case.

Because the Speakers of the Parliament and five members of the Bureau are to appear before the Supreme court after being given a week for their defence strategy to be discussed. Again, the charges against them are flagran violations of the rights of political representatives.

Because all of this could have been avoided if on any single one of the dozens of attested occasions - right up to the very last minute - on which dialogue and negotiation have been called for from the Catalan side, the Spanish government had not spurned the offer, often in an arrogant way.

Because my appeal to Mr. Tusk went unheeded and unanswered (link). Appeals at this late stage for "dialogue", after seven years of flat refusal to seek a solution to the 2010 institutional crisis on the part of the Spanish government, do not seem at all appropriate. As early as 2012 there were plenty of authorized voices inside and also outside Catalonia calling for a solution to be sought (link).

Because in a number of cases young children are being deprived of their mothers or fathers. Every day counts.

Some details

Spain, an EU Member State, has taken drastic measures against the Government of Catalonia, having refused since 2010 to politically address a serious constitutional crisis (deriving from a highly controversial Constitutional court decision that led to an immediate reaction in the form of a vast demonstration in July). Since then it has fined, barred from office, and now imprisoned leading politicians and social leaders for seeking to exercise article 1 of UN International human rights instruments ratified by Spain. It has taken over the regional administration and curtailed the regional Parliament, against Spain's own laws, by an application of Article 155 through a set of measures many of which legal specialists regard as totally illegal and unconstitutional in themselves.

These measures have been adopted in a State of Spanish public opinion in which almost anything goes. A tweet by a Spanish police union, treated Catalan politicians, the police chief, the head of public TV, as if they were hunting trophies to be achieved.
Given the uproar it caused, it has been deleted. What have not been deleted are many videos of Spanish Police contingents being sent off by crowds to chants of "A por ellos!" ("Go get 'em!", #APorEllos). Many videos be found on YouTube. Here's one example, from Huelva: link. Nor have literally hundreds of hate messages broadcast in the past few years by Spanish politicians (and a few Catalan ones), opinion leaders, journalists, military officers, clergymen... Latest batch: link. For years the media have been giving a monolithic, biassed, one-sided view of what is happening in Catalonia (for 2014, see link). A more recent study on hatred discourse analysed dozens of cases of "catalanophobia" (link). I claim that the intensity of propaganda about the Catalan problem, based on prejudici and stereotypes, makes it inconceivable for any Spanish judge without first hand familiarity with what is really going on to be able to be neutral in the issue.

Very few Spaniards really know why and when the conflict started. 

I really fear that the popular indignation of what was till now the "smiling revolution" may well overflow into uncontrolable violence. This would ideally suit Spain (that has over 10,000 policemen in ships in Barcelona and Tarragona ports itching to go into action). Groups of fit looking young men with nothing better to do (presumably on a tip-off, turn up at midnight to meet two Catalan ministers returning discreetly to Barcelona from Brussels - to be incarcerated a couple of days later - with Spanish flags and offensive chants. (link)

A scenario of violence is what many observers think it has been angling for for several months. This would allow a state of siege to be announced, and would allow it to postpone the 21 December election (the guarantees of which are already extremely unsure), that all surveys foresee would if held yield another majority for independence. Hardly surprising given the millions of toughened voters that despite all the threats, actually voted in the epic 1 October referendum.

In the meantime, the detainees are to my mind in serious danger in prison. They have been jeered at by policemen hoping the vicepresident will get raped in prison (ref). They have been vexed by being handcuffed behind their backs, and stripped naked as if they were traffickers (ref). Inmates have shouted "Bloody separatists, we'll kill you!" (ref). These same sources explain that one at least of the ministers was played the Spanish national anthem 17 times on a Mobile phone. They were driven at over 100 kph, without their seat belts being buckled.

Further reading

1. I recommend this:

Upholding the Rule of Law in the European Union

An open letter concerning the upholding of the Rule of Law in the European Union, co-signed by 188 scholars, politicians, public intellectuals and members of the European Parliament and sent on November 3, 2017.


2. And also this:

"Leading specialists in constitutional and criminal law raise serious doubts about the decision to imprison the Catalan ministers" (video)

3. Jami Tanner (ed.) . Contributions by Maya Waterland, Kyle Chong, Austin Meek, Annie Zhao, Matt Salah, and Abe Fraifeld.
Resolved: "Spain should grant Catalonia its independence."January 2018 PF Brief


Extracts from "EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law",

"[C]ase law of the Court of Justice of the European Union ("the Court of Justice") and of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as documents drawn up by the Council of Europe, building notably on the expertise of the Venice Commission, provide a non-exhaustive list of these principles and hence define the core meaning of the rule of law as a common value of the EU in accordance with Article 2 TEU. Those principles include legality, which implies a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws; legal certainty; prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers; independent and impartial courts; effective judicial review including respect for fundamental rights; and equality before the law". (p. 4)

" Article 7 TEU aims at ensuring that all Member States respect the common values of the EU, including the rule of law. Its scope is not confined to areas covered by EU law, but empowers the EU to intervene with the purpose of protecting the rule of law also in areas where Member States act autonomously. As explained in the Commission's Communication on Article 7 TEU, this is justified by the fact that "if a Member State breaches the fundamental values in a manner sufficiently serious to be caught by Article 7, this is likely to undermine the very foundation of the EU and the trust between its members, whatever the field in which the breach occurs". (p. 5)

"The Framework would not prevent the Commission from using its powers under Article 258 TFEU in situations falling within the scope of EU law. Nor would it prevent the mechanisms set out in Article 7 TEU being activated directly, should a sudden deterioration in a Member State require a stronger reaction from the EU". (p. 7)

"Where there are clear indications of a systemic threat to the rule of law in a Member State, the Commission will initiate a structured exchange with that Member State. The process is based on the following principles:
  - focusing on finding a solution through a dialogue with the Member State concerned;
  - ensuring an objective and thorough assessment of the situation at stake; 
  - respecting the principle of equal treatment of Member States;
  - indicating swift and concrete actions which could be taken to address the systemic threat and to avoid the use of Article 7 TEU mechanisms." (p. 7)

Cap comentari:

Publica un comentari