Catalan president: amnesty bill is 'great victory, but not enough'

Pro-independence ERC calls for referendum to end political conflict with Spain

Catalan government Pere Aragonès on November 2
Catalan government Pere Aragonès on November 2 / Marta Vidal / Maria Pratdesaba

Oriol Escudé Macià | Barcelona

November 2, 2023 09:11 PM

November 2, 2023 09:47 PM

Catalan President Pere Aragonès said that the amnesty law agreed with the Socialists is "a great victory for Catalonia," but warned that the political conflict will only be settled with a referendum.  

In his speech, which came shortly after the PSOE and ERC reached an agreement to back Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez’s bid for Prime Minister, Aragonès celebrated that the amnesty law that will be registered in Congress is for "all the oppressed without exception" and "makes the country win."  

An amnesty bill for all those involved in the 2017 referendum was a condition of the Catalan pro-independence party, ERC, to support Pedro Sanchez in his bid to become Prime Minister.

However, Aragonès said the bill was "not enough" and advocated for a next phase of negotiations leading to a referendum.   

"We will defend Catalonia's right to the citizens' right to freely decide our future," he added.  

Pere Aragonès gave a short speech at the end of the International Experiences of Amnesties in Conflict Resolution panel, held on Thursday in La Model, the former prison in Barcelona. 

Amnesty laws throughout history 

International conflict transformation consultant Andy Carl, IBEI researcher Dr. Lesley-Ann Daniels and Professor of Transitional Law and Justice Kieran McEvoy discussed the history of amnesty laws and their impact.   

Dr. Lesley-Ann Daniels outlined the long history of amnesties and the situations in which and how they typically occur.

She said that amnesty laws have traditionally been used as a political tool to restore social peace, especially when the target of the crime is a state, in cases of political treason or rebellion cases. 

Kieran McEvoy said that amnesties alone do not solve political problems and stressed that they are not attempts to rewrite history.

Referring to the Northern Ireland conflict, he said it was important that amnesties did not deny the victims' right to the truth.