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‘Pardons don’t guarantee recognition or reparation,’ says jailed activist’s lawyer

Legal team of pro-independence leader Jordi Cuixart reveals details of appeal in European Court of Human Rights

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15 June 2021 06:09 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

As Catalonia’s jailed pro-independence leaders begin to take their sedition convictions to the European Court of Human Rights, the prospect of Spain’s government granting pardons to free them seems more likely every day.

But for the legal team of Jordi Cuixart, a grassroots activist and the first imprisoned leader to effectively bring his case before the Strasbourg court, pardons will not make the appeals any less urgent.

"A pardon can free Jordi Cuixart, but it doesn’t guarantee the recognition of the violation [of rights], nor reparation of the violation," says the activist’s lawyer, Olivier Peter, in an interview with Catalan News.

  • "If they pardon Jordi Cuixart today saying, ‘you can be free but if you do the same thing again we’ll put you in jail once more’, this will maintain the chilling effect and the pressure on civil society"

    Olivier Peter · Jordi Cuixart's lawyer

Cuixart has been in prison since October 16, 2017, when he was preemptively detained for leading protests against Spain’s attempts to stop an independence referendum, and was subsequently sentenced to 9 years in jail by the Supreme Court.

With the activist having spent 3 years and 8 months behind bars, his lawyers argue that the effects of the punishment inflicted will be long-lasting, even if Spain’s president Pedro Sánchez uses his executive powers to set Cuixart and eight imprisoned politicians free.

Moreover, media reports suggest that the pardons will be partial (a lengthy disqualification from public office is to remain in place) and reversible, meaning that they could be suspended if the convicted leaders receive similar convictions in the future.

"If they pardon Jordi Cuixart today saying, ‘you can be free but if you do the same thing again we’ll put you in jail once more’, this will maintain the chilling effect and the pressure on civil society," said Peter.

Peter took part in a press conference on Tuesday by the Òmnium Cultural, the civil society group led by Cuixart from prison. Human rights activists and organizations expressed their support for Cuixart and hoped for the ECHR to reverse his conviction.

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