The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

Alfred Sant joins appeal on behalf of Catalan political prisoners

Thursday, 9 April 2020, 11:21 Last update: about 3 months ago

Former Prime Minister Alfred Sant has co-signed a letter to Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez concerning serious human rights violations against two elected Catalan MEPs both former ministers who were imprisoned for having organised the Catalan self-determination referendum in 2017.

The letter was co-signed by thirty-six Members of the European Parliament and addresses concerns regarding the current situation of the Catalan pro-independence leaders who have served more than 2 years in prison and had already been granted regular temporary release in order to perform work or volunteer duties.

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The letter was written in view of calls made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights urging governments to release vulnerable people, including low risk offenders, women detainees, people with permissions but also prisoners without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners during the COVID-19 crisis.

Instead of considering the temporary release of the nine Catalan leaders in jail together with all the other prisoners under the same circumstances, the Spanish Supreme Court issued, on the 1st of April, a brief statement to the media warning that if Catalan Prison Boards allowed the Catalan leaders to spend at home the COVID-19 confinement period, they could face criminal charges. As a consequence, the release of the Catalan leaders was denied.

Together with the other MEPs, Dr Sant told the Spanish Prime Minister that this poses a risk to the prisoner’s right to adequate standard of health and is also restricting other fundamental rights and principles, such as the separation of powers, the principle of equality before the law and non-discrimination for political grounds, the respect for minorities, the right to accountability, among others.

In conclusion, the MEPs state that they will be closely monitoring the situation and they encouraged Prime Minister Sanchez to initiate the appropriate proceedings and measures in order to prevent further unacceptable threats from the judiciary to public officials.

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