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International observers: “We saw numerous and repeated violations of civil and human rights”

Helena Catt, head of the International Election Expert Research Team, said that "despite enormous obstacle and fear" they noted a "significant turnout" so the Catalan referendum "should be respected"

03 October 2017 09:48 AM

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ACN | Barcelona

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The head of the International Election Expert Research Team, Helena Catt, said that the Catalan referendum process "should be respected". In a preliminary statement from the experts about what they saw on Sunday in Catalonia, she regretted the attempts by Spanish riot police to stop the vote violently. "We saw numerous and repeated violations of civil and human rights," she said.

"It was a centrally orchestrated, military-style operation carefully planned. We are stunned that armed masked officers entered polling stations with the purposes of preventing a peaceful democratic process," the preliminary statement read. "Despite the issues, and other difficulties people experienced trying to vote, I want to emphasize that we did see a day of voting yesterday."

 

  • "We noted persistence in the effort to vote including significant turnout despite enormous obstacle and fear. The process should be respected"

    Helena Catt · International Experts Research Team


Here is the full statement by the head of International Election Expert Research Team, Helena Catt. 

"Yesterday I led a team of seventeen accredited observers who visited over 100 polling stations across Catalonia. This team has decades of experience carrying out over 300 election monitoring assignments all over the world. We monitored and recorded the situation from 5am until polls closed at 8pm and then as ballots were counted.

"When our team of international election experts arrived in Catalonia last month we promised to impartially record and report what we witnessed, warts and all. Undistorted and unvarnished. That’s want I intend to provide now in this preliminary statement and in our final report at the end of the week.

"Yesterday we witnessed events that no election monitors ought to ever witness. We hope to never witness scenes of this nature ever again. We saw numerous and repeated violations of civil and human rights. We are shocked that this happened at all.

"Even more so as it is clear to us that it was a centrally orchestrated, military-style operation carefully planned. We are stunned that armed masked officers entered polling stations with the purposes of preventing a peaceful democratic process.

"Despite these issues, and other difficulties people experienced trying to vote, I want to emphasise that we did see a day of voting yesterday.

"We wish to acknowledge the peaceful nature of how the Catalan people acted yesterday. We witnessed many acts demonstrating the strong will of the people which showed that they were determined to have their say and let others have their say through the ballot box, including the elderly and disabled.

"In the face of external interference there were improvisations and last minutes changes to the voting process that were not always consistent across Catalonia or with what was in the law or the manual and we will detail these in our final report.

"We repeatedly saw that those who worked in the polling stations did so in good faith, and we saw no sign of attempts to manipulate the vote. Everyone we saw was doing the best they could under difficult circumstance.

"In conclusion, across Catalonia we noted persistence in the effort to vote including significant turnout despite enormous obstacle and fear. The process should be respected.

"Finally, I would like to thank all the members of our team.

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  • Guardia Civil agents confront people outside a polling station in Catalonia (by ACN)