Neben dem Sonderberichterstatter »zur Förderung einer demokratischen und gerechten internationalen Ordnung« der Vereinten Nationen, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, hat sich nun auch der Sonderberichterstatter »für Förderung und Schutz der freien Meinungsäußerung«, David Kaye, bezüglich Katalonien zu Wort gemeldet. In einer offiziellen Mitteilung, die auf der Webseite des Hochkommissariats für Menschenrechte (UNHCHR) veröffentlicht wurde, bringen sie ihre Sorge zum Ausdruck und betonen gemeinsam, dass unabhängig von der Legalität des Referendums vom 1. Oktober sämtliche demokratischen Grundrechte zu gewährleisten sind:
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Spain must respect fundamental rights in response to Catalan referendum,
UN rights experts
GENEVA (28 September 2017) – UN experts have called on the Spanish authorities to ensure that measures taken ahead of the Catalan referendum on 1 October do not interfere with the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and public participation.
The Catalan government has scheduled a referendum on independence for the autonomous region for 1 October. However, the Constitutional Court of Spain decided on 6 September that the referendum would be unconstitutional.
“Regardless of the lawfulness of the referendum, the Spanish authorities have a responsibility to respect those rights that are essential to democratic societies,” the experts said.
Since the ruling, hundreds of thousands of Catalans have taken to the streets in protests. Tensions have escalated, with the authorities searching print houses and seizing referendum material. Websites have been blocked, and political meetings stopped.
Politicians have been arrested, and leaders of the mass protests have been charged with sedition, a crime which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.
“The measures we are witnessing are worrying because they appear to violate fundamental individual rights, cutting off public information and the possibility of debate at a critical moment for Spain’s democracy.”
On 21 September, more than 4,000 police officers were deployed to the autonomous region, with an order from the Government to “act in case the illegal referendum takes place”.
“We are concerned that this order and the accompanying rhetoric may heighten tensions and social unrest,” the experts said.
“We urge all parties to exercise the utmost restraint and avoid violence of any kind to ensure peaceful protests in the coming days”, they concluded.
The experts have been in contact with the government of Spain concerning the situation.