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Spain violated Catalan ex-leader’s rights, UN body rules

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The Spanish Supreme Court’s decision to suspend former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont from his public duties violated his rights, the U.N.’s Human Rights Committee has ruled.

In the resolution, dated May 15, the committee concluded that the Court’s decision to suspend the MEP for “alleged crimes on the basis of public and peaceful acts” in 2018 didn’t meet the bar of “reasonableness and objectivity” and violated his right to be elected.

Spain is a signatory to the relevant U.N. code, and must now provide “effective and legal remedy,” according to the decision, although the committee cannot impose penalties on Madrid.

Puigdemont, who now lives in Belgium after fleeing Spain in 2017, faces an arrest warrant alongside four others separatists for his role in Catalonia’s controversial independence referendum that took place the same year.

The region’s former leader hailed the “very important” resolution in a statement, adding that, “Spain has been for years consistently violating the political and civil rights of the Catalan people and its representatives.”

“No discussion on the rule of law in the EU will be sincere as long as Spain’s violations of rights are not recognized, denounced and fully tackled,” he said.

The Spanish government didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by POLITICO.

The resolution follows a similar decision by the same U.N. committee last August, which found that Spain violated the political rights of four other Catalan separatist leaders.

In January, the Court of Justice of the EU ruled that Belgium’s decision to refuse the extradition of Catalan separatist Lluís Puig to Spain is not legal — unless it finds “systemic deficiencies” in Spain’s judicial system — setting a precedent for Puigdemont’s case.

Spain’s Supreme Court dropped sedition charges against him the same month, although he and two other Catalan separatist leaders still face other charges including misuse of public funds.

The U.N. committee of 18 independent experts, whose purpose is to ensure compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Madrid is party, has ordered Spain to “publish the Committee’s views and disseminate them widely” and gave the country 180 days to inform the committee of what it’s done to implement the decision.

Madrid should also take “all necessary measures to prevent similar violations in the future,” it added.

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