Veto on mention of pro-independence jailed leaders in EU fundamental rights report denounced

Rapporteur accuses large European parliament groups of "expunging" her opinion on the 10 year prison sentences

The Irish MEP Clare Daly in the European Parliament on November 24, 2020 (by European Parliament)
The Irish MEP Clare Daly in the European Parliament on November 24, 2020 (by European Parliament) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

November 24, 2020 01:20 PM

The rapporteur of a European Parliament report on fundamental rights in the Union, Clare Daly, has denounced being barred from mentioning the situation of the Catalan pro-independence jailed leaders in the paper.

In a statement in the chamber on Tuesday, the Irish MEP (European United Left - Nordic Green Left) accused the large parliamentary groups of having vetoed her in the document's explanatory statement, which usually reflects the opinion of the paper's author.

"We have a fundamental rights report that deals with freedom of expression where the explanatory statement has been expunged for having the audacity to mention the fact that there are parliamentarians in prison with sentences of over ten years for organizing a democratic plebiscite," she said.

"The big groups could not handle the truth," she added.

"Nine months after the explanatory statement was published, this statement – which was never voted upon – had to be banned."

Daly also quoted George Orwell in Catalan to complain about the issue: "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people things they do not want to hear."

"It is very clear that a lot of people here do not want to hear about Catalonia."

Spain's Socialists deny veto

Yet, the president of the chamber's Committee on Civil Liberties where the report was developed, Spain's Socialist MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, denied any veto.

He said that under the parliament's regulation, he was allowed to "cancel" the explanatory statement if a majority of political groups requested it or if it did not match with the paper's content.

López Aguilar also said that Daly's opinion "can be denied with political arguments."

Catalan pro-independence MEPs Diana Riba and Toni Comín complained about the "censorship" and expressed concerned about the situation of freedom of speech in the European chamber.

Supreme Court to decide on prison privileges

The nine Catalan pro-independence leaders sentenced to 9 to 13 years behind bars last autumn for their role in the 2017 referendum are now waiting for a final Supreme Court decision on their conditions as inmates.

At the moment, two of them have the 'low category' status, the most beneficial for inmates, including being able to spend the entire weekends at home and to work outside prison some hours on weekdays – the rest are labelled as 'medium category', meaning they can only leave jail in leaves of up to 36 days a year.

After a number of appeals, Spain's Supreme Court will decide on the final status for all nine this Thursday, November 26, from 10am.