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‘EU is not living up to what defenders of human rights expect of it,’ says MEP at UN

Two side events on the Catalan issue are held at the international organisation's headquarters in Geneva

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20 March 2018 06:45 PM

by

ACN | Geneva

The Catalan member of the European Parliament Jordi Solé on Tuesday criticized the European Union's stance towards Catalonia, and warned that it "is not living up to what defenders of human rights expect of it." The MEP, from the Greens/EFA group, was speaking at the plenary session of the UN’s Council of Human Rights.

Solé denounced the "disproportionate violence" used by the Spanish police during the October 1 referendum. The MEP also claimed that Spain "is clearly violating" Catalonia's right to self-determination, as well as "freedom of assembly and speech." In addition, he was critical of the Spanish government's "authoritarian reaction" against Catalonia's push for independence.  

Solé was also the organizer of the two side events on Catalonia that were held in Geneva on Tuesday. According to the Catalan MEP, the two events aimed at "denouncing the democratic regression" in Spain. In addition, he insisted that it is important to use "any international event" to "call for respect for human rights, fundamental rights, and democracy."

  • "[The European Union] is not living up to what defenders of human rights expect of it"

    Jordi Solé · Catalan MEP 

The two conferences were titled "The Right to Self-Determination in the 21st Century" and "Breaches of Fundamental Rights in the EU: the Catalan Case." Taking part in the first debate were the experts Nicolas Levrat, from Geneva University, Jaume López, from Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University, and Alfred de Zayas, an independent UN expert. López said that the well-attended debate showed “the number of friends that Catalonia has in the UN headquarters.”

Meanwhile De Zayas defended Catalonia’s right to self-determination and criticized the EU for maintaining its “silence” following the Spanish police raids on polling places on October 1. De Zayas also stressed the need to “create the conditions” necessary to hold a binding referendum in Catalonia, which the expert called the highest expression of “democracy”.

For his part, Professor Levrat argued that there is nothing in international law preventing Catalans from exercising their right to self-determination.

Also at the debate were deposed minister Meritxell Serret and former CUP party MP Anna Gabriel, as well as Esquerra party MP Ferran Civit, the first vice president of the Catalan Parliament Bureau, Josep Costa (JxCat), and journalist Txell Bonet, who is the partner of jailed activist, Jordi Cuixart.

The second day that Catalonia is at the UN

It is the second day that the political situation in Catalonia has been discussed at the UN headquarters in Geneva. On Monday, the UN hosted a discussion on the Catalan issue for the first time. A side event called ‘Human Rights Regression in Spain’, organized by the Catalan Institute for Human Rights (IDHC), was also held in the international organisation's headquarters.

The debate featured, among others, the wife of a jailed official, Laura Masvidal, the president of the IDHC, David Bondia, and a senior lecturer in Public Protest Law at the University of East Anglia, Michael Hamilton. The speakers denounced the violation of human rights in Spain, as well as the lack of separation of powers. They also called on the international community to react against what they consider to be state repression.

Puigdemont takes part in a talk on Wednesday

Deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who also attended Monday’s events at the UN, is to speak on Wednesday at a conference titled ‘Is Independence Still Important in the 21st Century?’ The academic event is organized by the Institute of International and Development Studies, a post-graduate university in Geneva.

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  • The Catalan MEP Jordi Solé (center) at the UN  headquarters in Geneva (by Laura Pous)

  • The Catalan MEP Jordi Solé (center) at the UN headquarters in Geneva (by Laura Pous)