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International anti-torture NGO calls for 'immediate' release of jailed activists

World Organisation Against Torture says charges against Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez are "unfounded" and must be dropped

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23 November 2018 12:14 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has called on the Spanish authorities to "immediately and unconditionally" release the jailed pro-independence civic activists Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, who has since become an MP.

The largest network of NGOs against torture and inhumane treatment condemned the ongoing detention of the activists in a letter to Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, public prosecutor, María José Segarra, and ombudsman, Francisco Fernández Marugán.

In the letter, which focuses on Cuixart, the OMCT calls the charges against the head of Òmnium Cultural "unfounded" and demands they should be "dropped," arguing that keeping him in custody is a "disproportionate restriction" on his fundamental rights.

The organization is also critical of the civic leader being tried in the Supreme Court, whose rulings cannot be appealed, and it makes reference to judges being appointed by parliament, the subject of a recent controversy that has called into question the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers.

Pre-trial detention a "last resort"

The letter also points out that Cuixart has appealed to the courts for release on several occasions but "with no success," and argues that to be "compatible with international standards" pre-trial imprisonment "must only be applied as a last resort."

Arguing that the law enshrines the right to "come together to debate and speak out about shared concerns" as long as it is done with "peaceful" intentions, means and manners, the OMCT points out that the term ʻpeacefulʼ can include conduct that "hinders, impedes or obstructs the activities of third parties."

On the subject of peaceful conduct, the letter goes on to points out that on October 4, 2017, the NGO publicly criticized the "indiscriminate and excessive use of force by the police in Catalonia during the referendum" and called for an immediate, impartial investigation.

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  • Jordi Cuixart (right) and Jordi Sànchez (by Laura Busquets)

  • Jordi Cuixart (right) and Jordi Sànchez (by Laura Busquets)