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Catalan Ombudsman warns separation of powers in Spain is “deteriorating”

The Ombudsman of Catalonia, Rafael Ribó, presented on Friday the report “Regression of human rights: freedom of speech of elected representatives and separation of power in the Spanish Kingdom” to the President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, which warns of a “deterioration of the principle of separation of power in Spain”. Ribó criticized the suppression of “freedom of speech of elected representatives” and their “criminal prosecution”, which infringes “European law”. The Ombudsman denounced the criminal prosecution of elected representatives “at many different levels”, from local representatives to members of Parliament, and highlighted the case against Carme Forcadell and four members of her Bureau for allowing a debate in the plenary about an independence resolution.

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29 April 2017 11:08 AM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Ombudsman of Catalonia, Rafael Ribó, presented on Friday the report “Regression of human rights: freedom of speech of elected representatives and separation of power in the Spanish Kingdom” to the President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, which warns of a “deterioration of the principle of separation of power in Spain”. Ribó criticized the suppression of “freedom of speech of elected representatives” and their “criminal prosecution”, which infringes “European law”. The Ombudsman denounced the criminal prosecution of elected representatives “at many different levels”, from local representatives to members of Parliament, and highlighted the case against Carme Forcadell and four members of her Bureau for allowing a debate in the plenary about an independence resolution.


The report expresses the Ombudsman’s concern about the proceedings against elected representatives, which possibly violate European law. “The legislation of the European Court of Justice demands special guarantees to protect the freedom of speech of elected representatives,” the text says. According to the Ombudsman, this freedom of speech is put at risk by the continuous “use of legal proceedings to stop political processes”. Another “very serious” example of a possible violation of international law is the recent reform of the Spanish Constitutional Court Law to sanction political representatives directly if they do not follow the court’s rulings. According to the Ombudsman, this change of jurisdiction erodes the principle of separation of power and leaves Spain outside the framework of European law.

Lack of investigation into smear campaign against Catalan officials 

On the other hand, the report exemplifies the deterioration of the separation of power in Spain with the “complete standstill” of the investigations into an illegal smear campaign against pro-independence politicians in Catalonia, led by former Minister of Home Affairs, Jorge Fernandez Díaz. Ribó stated “it is absolutely inconceivable that there are no legal investigations” into such “clearly bad management by the administration”, which should have “legal and political consequences”. The report also denounces the obstruction of further investigations into the case by two parliamentary groups “that are trying to keep the responsible persons from being called to offer answers to Parliament at all costs”.

Another worrisome issue is the scope of the legal cases against freedom of speech, reaching from representatives of Parliament to local councilors in municipalities in favor of independence. Ribó mentioned the cases against Vic’s city counselor Joan Coma or the mayor of Berga, Montse Venturós. Joan Coma had been accused of sedition and rebellion for using the metaphor “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” and Venturòs for not taking down the Catalan independence flag from the City Hall building during elections. Rafael Ribó also pointed out “several reproaches” from the UN and a report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Spain.

The Ombudsman also criticized certain infringements of separation of power within the Catalan administration. He mentioned the case of former senator Santiago Vidal who had suggested possible violations of Spanish law by the Catalan government in preparation of a future independent state, and the case of a member of the Catalan government who had asked state employees to give support to former members of the Catalan government prosecuted for the 9-N vote. Ribó added that the Catalan government official had already offered his apologies.

The Ombudsman personally delivered the report to the President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, with the request that it be debated in the plenary.

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  • The Ombudsman of Catalonia, Rafael Ribó, presented his report to the President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell (by ACN)

  • The Ombudsman of Catalonia, Rafael Ribó, presented his report to the President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell (by ACN)