Manifesto supporting jailed former parliament speaker presented in Barcelona
Document backed by MPs and former MPs from all over the world read out at event to demand "immediate release" of Carme Forcadell
A manifesto in support of the jailed former speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, and backed by hundreds of MPs and former MPs from all over the world, was presented on Thursday in an event in Barcelona.
An initiative by three former presidents of the Catalan chamber, the document addressed to members and former members of parliaments aims to "denounce the unfair imprisonment of Forcadell for having allowed parliamentary debate."
The event included speeches from the current speaker, Roger Torrent, and MP and former bureau member, Joan Josep Nuet, as well as the Welsh National Assembly's presiding officer, Elin Jones.
For Torrent, his predecessor's imprisonment is "not understandable and not acceptable," apart from "unfair." He believes she is behind bars only for "political vengeance."
His Welsh counterpart expressed "surprise" at Forcadell being jailed for doing "the same work" as her.
"I am in Barcelona to express support to your parliament and Carme Forcadell, to demand her immediate release," she said.
524 parliamentarians from 25 countries and 32 chambers
During the event, the manifesto supporting Forcadell was read out, along with some of the names who have backed it, which include 524 parliamentarians from 25 different countries and 32 chambers. The text demands Forcadell's "immediate release" from pre-trial detention, where she awaits trial charged with rebellion for allowing debates and votes on independence.
The manifesto says "the then-president of the Parliament of Catalonia acted in accordance with the rules and procedures of the chamber, and fulfilled the roles assigned to her in her position," and adds that the accusation against her "affects the democratic foundations of any parliamentary system."
Arguing that "the free and open discussion of ideas" represent the "very essence of parliamentary politics," the manifesto goes on to say that "the use of the criminal justice system as an instrument for oppressing a parliament and its activities is wholly incompatible with the principles that govern and uphold a parliamentary democracy."
Manifesto's two demands
The document ends with two clear demands on behalf of its signatories. First, it calls for "the resolution of these institutional and political conflicts through non-criminal channels," and, after expressing "solidarity with the former President Carme Forcadell" also demands "that she be released immediately."
Forcadell has been in pre-trial detention since March and is potentially facing a 17-year prison sentence. She presided over the Catalan chamber from October 2015 to January 2018, and was the speaker during last year's independence bid, which ended with a majority in the chamber approving a declaration of independence on October 27.