Spain's Congress bureau dismisses Catalan pro-independence parties' amnesty bill

Socialists join conservatives and far-right in rejecting general pardon for "3,000 victims of reprisals" including jailed leaders

Seven of the nine jailed pro-independence leaders outside Lledoners prison hold a sign calling for an amnesty (by Mar Martí)
Seven of the nine jailed pro-independence leaders outside Lledoners prison hold a sign calling for an amnesty (by Mar Martí) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

March 23, 2021 11:39 AM

Spain's Congress bureau has dismissed the amnesty bill filed a week earlier by pro-independence parties that called for a general pardon for "3,000 victims of reprisals" of the Catalan dispute, including the nine jailed leaders, meaning the motion will not be debated in the lower house.

The Socialists—but not Podemos, their coalition partners—voted alongside the conservative People's Party and Vox and blocked the bill following a legal report that deemed it unconstitutional as "general pardons" may not be granted, according to Article 62 i. 

The defeat of the bill put forth by Esquerra Republicana, Junts per Catalunya, and CUP does not come as a surprise as its success was contingent upon Socialist backing, something Spanish president Pedro Sánchez made clear it lacked from the get-go, but has received criticism from Catalonia nonetheless. 

"The Socialists don't miss an opportunity to align themselves with the People's Party and Vox by blocking this amnesty law," Catalan government spokesperson Mertixell Borràs lamented on Tuesday.

Madrid's left-wing coalition government is considering other alternatives, such as possibly granting presidential pardons to the nine politicians and high-profile activists currently serving sentences ranging from 9 to 13 years for the events surrounding the 2017 referendum.

Another option would be to legally reform the crime of sedition for which they were convicted, but neither of these avenues are certain.

One of the main points of contention regarding these possible courses of action is that, if they ever were to materialize, they would only benefit the independence movement's leaders and not lower-profile cases.

According to grassroots organization Òmnium Cultural, there are over 2,850 people with charges relating to the independence push, including some for helping to organize the unauthorized referendum or others for protesters who blocked roads or occupied the Barcelona airport.

Disappointed with the Congress bureau's decision, Òmnium has prepared a signature drive for April 10 in an attempt to send the bill back to the lower house.