Back to top

Catalan HRD Jordi Cuixart sentenced to 9 years in prison

Status: 
Sentenced
About the situation

16 October 2020 will mark the third year in detention for human rights defender Jordi Cuixart, who is frequently spending up to 23 hours per day alone in his cell. Following the suspension of a flexible regime of detention granted by the court, and due to restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordi Cuixart’s detention conditions have significantly worsened.

On 18 May 2020, the Public Prosecutor opposed Jordi Cuixart’s request to be released whilst waiting for his appeal to be reviewed by the Constitutional Court of Spain.

On 31 March 2020, the Supreme Court of Spain threatened that civil servants in the Catalan regional government who authorise house arrest for political prisoners would face penal sanctions. The process of temporary release for prisoners was initiated in response to the Covid19 crisis as a measure to create more space in prisons. This stalled a process that human rights defender Jordi Cuixart, who had previously been granted temporary release, would have been eligible for.

On 14 October 2019, Catalan human rights defender Jordi Cuixart was found guilty on charges of sedition and sentenced to 9 years in prison.

Since October 2017, Jordi Cuixart has been in pre-trial detention, facing up to 25 years of prison on charges of “rebellion”. The allegations were brought against him in connection to the promotion of a peaceful demonstration in Catalonia by the human rights defender on 20 September 2017 and the referendum on the independence of Catalonia on 1 October 2017.

About Jordi Cuixart

Jordi Cuixart Jordi Cuixart is the president of Òmnium Cultural, a non-governmental organisation, which was founded in 1961 in response to censorship and persecution of Catalan culture by the Franco dictatorship. Òmnium Cultural has been working to promote and preserve Catalan language and cultural heritage ever since its establishment. Serving its purpose, the organisation has also founded and sponsored various awards and literary contests for works published in Catalan. Upon the restoration of democracy in Spain, Omnium Cultural has been actively involved in the promotion and defence of human rights in Catalonia. Over the last few years, the association has helped to organise a number of peaceful demonstrations in support of the right of people in Catalonia to decide their political future freely and democratically.

14 October 2020
Three years since his detention, Jordi Cuixart is placed under stricter detention regime

16 October 2020 will mark the third year in detention for human rights defender Jordi Cuixart, who is frequently spending up to 23 hours per day alone in his cell. Following the suspension of a flexible regime of detention granted by the court, and due to restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordi Cuixart’s detention conditions have significantly worsened.

Jordi Cuixart is the president of Òmnium Cultural, a non-governmental organisation with 180,000 members, which was founded in 1961 in response to censorship and persecution of Catalan culture by the Franco dictatorship. Òmnium Cultural has been working to promote and preserve Catalan language and cultural heritage ever since its establishment. Serving its purpose, the organisation has also founded and sponsored various awards and literary contests for works published in Catalan. Since the restoration of democracy in Spain, Òmnium Cultural has been involved in the promotion and defence of human rights in Catalonia. Over the last few years, the association has helped to organise a number of peaceful demonstrations in support of the right of people in Catalonia to decide their political future freely and democratically.

On 14 October 2019, having spent two years in pre-trial detention, Jordi Cuixart was found guilty of “sedition” and sentenced to nine years in prison. The allegations were brought against him in connection with his promotion of a peaceful demonstration in Catalonia on 20 September 2017 and the referendum on self-determination of Catalonia on 1 October 2017.

On 13 February 2020, after serving a quarter of his sentence, a Penitentiary Surveillance court in Catalonia granted Jordi Cuixart permission to leave prison each day and work for 12 hours a day, five days a week, under Article 1S00.2 of the Penitential Law. After a brief suspension of these terms, on 14 April 2020, he was allowed to return to the flexible regime of detention, in accordance with restrictions of the COVID-19 lockdown.

On 17 July 2020, the Penitentiary Surveillance Court granted Cuixart a third degree detention regime; a more flexible detention arrangement. Under this regime, convicts are allowed to work from Monday to Friday outside of prison, returning only to spend nights in jail, and to be out of prison during the week ends. Only 11 days later, the Public Prosecutor’s Office appealed this decision, after Cuixart made public statements claiming that under the regime he would begin to exercise his fundamental rights again, in particular his right to peaceful demonstration. The appeal led to the precautionary suspension of both the third degree detention regime and the regime granted under Article 100.2 by the Penitentiary Surveillance Court. It is now up to the Supreme Court to consider the Public Prosecutor’s appeal.

Front Line Defenders is concerned by the continued detention and further restriction of Jordi Cuixart’s detention regime, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has called for the release of all human rights defenders detained for expressing dissenting views. Front Line Defenders calls for immediate release of Jordi Cuixart as it believes that his imprisonment is motivated by his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

29 May 2020
Public Prosecutor opposes release of Jordi Cuixart from prison

On 18 May 2020, the Public Prosecutor opposed Jordi Cuixart’s request to be released whilst waiting for his appeal to be reviewed by the Constitutional Court of Spain. The appeal had been considered admissible by the Constitutional Court on 6 May 2020. Jordi Cuixart’s lawyers had requested his release in efforts to prevent him from suffering irreparable damage as a result of long term imprisonment. In her statement however, the Public Prosecutor wrote that given the alleged gravity of Jordi Cuixart’s actions and their impact, granting him release during review of his appeal would not be appropriate.

On 13 February 2020, a penitentiary court in Catalonia granted Jordi Cuixart allowance to leave prison each day and work for 12 hours a day, five days a week, under Article 100.2 of the Penitential Law. This decision was then validated by a judge. However in the context of COVID-19, this allowance was suspended from 16 March to 14 April 2020. Since 14 April 2020, Jordi Cuixart has been able to leave the prison for work during standard working hours. The circumstances regarding his permission to leave prison each day for work have become uncertain however, as the Public Prosecutor publicly opposed the decision of the court in Catalonia. She argued that sedition is an exceptional charge and requires a more restrictive interpretation of Article 100.2 of the Penitential Law, stating her intention to appeal the court’s decision to the Constitutional Court.

Jordi Cuixart is the president of Òmnium Cultural, a non-governmental organisation founded in 1961 in response to the censorship and persecution experienced by Catalan culture under the Franco dictatorship. As well as working to promote and preserve the Catalan language and cultural heritage, Òmnium Cultural has been involved in the promotion and defence of human rights in Catalonia. The organisation has helped to organise a number of peaceful demonstrations in support of the right of people in Catalonia to free and democratic self-determination.

On 14 October 2019, Jordi Cuixart was found guilty on charges of sedition and sentenced to nine years in prison. He was arrested in October 2017, shortly after he publicly promoted a peaceful demonstration as well as a referendum on the independence of Catalonia. On 13 June 2019, The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention urged Spain to release Jordi Cuixart and to investigate his arbitrary detention and the violation of his rights.

Front Line Defenders renews its call for the immediate and unconditional release of Jordi Cuixart as it believes that he has been convicted and imprisoned in reprisal for his legitimate and peaceful activities in the defence of human rights.

 

9 April 2020
Temporary release of Jordi Cuixart to house arrest amid COVID-19 crisis at risk of being blocked

The Catalan government has initiated a process leading to the temporary release of non-violent prisoners to house arrest in order to create more space in prisons during the coronavirus lockdown. Human rights defender Jordi Cuixart would be eligible for this measure as he had been previously granted  temporary release.  However, the process is stalled as on 31 March 2020, the Supreme Court of Spain threatened that civil servants in the Catalan regional government who authorise house arrest for political prisoners would face penal sanctions.

Jordi Cuixart is the president of Òmnium Cultural, a non-governmental organisation founded in 1961 in response to the censorship and persecution experienced by Catalan culture under the Franco dictatorship. As well as working to promote and preserve the Catalan language and cultural heritage, Òmnium Cultural has been involved in the promotion and defence of human rights in Catalonia. The organisation has helped to organise a number of peaceful demonstrations in support of the right of people in Catalonia to free and democratic self-determination.

On 14 October 2019, Jordi Cuixart was found guilty on charges of sedition and sentenced to nine years in prison. He was arrested in October 2017, which took place shortly after he publicly promoted a peaceful demonstration as well as a referendum on independence of Catalonia. On 13 June 2019, The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention urged Spain to release Jordi Cuixart and to investigate his arbitrary detention and the violation of his rights.

On 5 March 2020, a penitentiary court in Catalonia granted Jordi Cuixart temporary release under Article 100.2 of the Pentinentiary Law, permitting him to leave the prison and work for 12 hours a day, five days a week. The Spanish General Prosecutor immediately appealed this decision arguing that the crime of sedition is “exceptional” and requires  "restrictive interpretation" when it comes to granting daytime prison leave.

On 6 March 2020, Jordi Cuixart’s lawyers submitted an Application for Protection to the Constitutional Court of Spain arguing that long term imprisonment could have a negative impact on  Jordi Cuixart’s health. The application remains pending.

On 16 March 2020, the permission to temporarily leave the prison granted to Jordi Cuixart was suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis. On 27 March 2020, the human rights defender submitted an Appeal of Exceptional Urgency to the Constitutional Court, requesting to be released to house arrest for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

Several local organisations in Spain have called on the central and regional governments to follow the recommendations made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to  place political prisoners under house arrest as they are exposed to a high risk of COVID 19 contagion in prisons.

On 2 April 2020, Boriss Cilevics, chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, called on Spain and Turkey to release several political prisoners, including human rights defender Jordi Cuixart, due to the threat posed by COVID-19 in overcrowded prisons.

Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned about the suspension of the temporary release previously granted to Jordi Cuixart, especially given the high risk to which he is exposed while being imprisoned amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Front Line Defenders renews its call for the immediate and unconditional release of Jordi Cuixart as it believes that he has been convicted and imprisoned in reprisal for his legitimate and peaceful activities in the defence of human rights.

 

15 October 2019
Catalan human rights defender Jordi Cuixart sentenced to 9 years in prison

On 14 October 2019, Catalan human rights defender Jordi Cuixart was found guilty on charges of sedition and sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jordi Cuixart was arrested shortly after he publicly promoted a peaceful demonstration in Catalonia on 20 September 2019 as well as the referendum on independence of Catalonia on 1 October 2019. Before this sentencing, Jordi Cuixart had been held in preventive detention since his arrest on 16 October 2017.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Jordi Cuixart is the president of Òmnium Cultural, a non-governmental organisation founded in 1961 in response to the censorship and persecution experienced by Catalan culture under the Franco dictatorship. As well as working to promote and preserve the Catalan language and cultural heritage, Òmnium Cultural has been actively involved in the promotion and defence of human rights in Catalonia. The organization has helped to organise a number of peaceful demonstrations in support of the right of people in Catalonia to free and democratic self-determination.

On 21 March 2018, four months after his case was merged with those of 13 other defendents, Jordi Cuixart was indicted with “sedition” by the investigating judge of the Supreme Court. He was accused of actively campaigning in favour of the referendum on independence in Catalonia held on 1 October 2017, which had been suspended by the Constitutional Court. The charge is mainly based on the accusation that he organised the protests on 20 September 2017 in front of the Catalan Department of Economy which sought to impede a police operation ordered by the court in various public buildings related to the referendum. Prior to the protests, Jordi Cuixart specifically emphasized on social media and other platforms the peaceful nature of the mobilisations. Footage shows the human rights defender standing on a police car during the protests attempting to calm down and disband a lively crowd protesting against the detention of referendum organisers.

On 14 October 2019, the Judicial Chamber for Criminal Cases of the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders, including human rights defender Jordi Cuixart, to prison terms of up to 13 years for sedition and other offences.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found seven cases of Catalan leaders to be arbitrary, including Jordi Cuixart's, and has urged Spain to release those who have been detained. As stated by International Trial Watch, FIDH and Euromed Rights, the trials were held with numerous irregularities and infringements on the right to a fair trial. Amnesty International, OMCT, UN Special Rapporteurs and Council of Europe have also expressed their concerns about the case of Jordi Cuixart and have urged Spanish authorities to realease him.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the conviction for sedition against human rights defender Jordi Cuixart as it believes it resulted from his legitimate and peaceful activities in the defence of human rights.

 

 

23 November 2018
Human rights defender in pre-trial detention for over a year

Since October 2017, Jordi Cuixart has been in pre-trial detention, facing up to 25 years of prison on charges of “rebellion”. The allegations were brought against him in connection to the promotion of a peaceful demonstration in Catalonia by the human rights defender on 20 September 2017 and the referendum on the independence of Catalonia on 1 October 2017.

View or Download Urgent Appeal

On 20 September 2018, the Supreme Court rejected the third petition to release Jordi Cuixart on bail, stating that there has been no change in the circumstances to justify overturning his pre-trial detention. The Court had already rejected the first petition on 4 December 2017 and the second on 21 March, justifying its decision by stating that the human rights defender was likely to re-offend.

On 21 March 2018, Jordi Cuixart was indicted with “rebellion” by the investigating judge of the Supreme Court, where his case had already been transferred and merged with those of 13 other defendants on 24 November 2017. He was accused of participation and campaigning in favour of the referendum on the independence of Catalonia held on 1 October 2017, which had been suspended by the Constitutional Court. The charge is mainly based on the accusation that he organised the protests on 20 September 2017 in front of the Catalan Department of Economy which sought to impede a police operation ordered by the court in various public buildings related to the referendum. Prior to the protests, Jordi Cuixart emphasized the exclusively peaceful nature of the mobilisations publicly and through various social media posts. Footage shows the human rights defender standing on a police car during the protests trying to calm down a crowd wanting to protest against the detention of those who were preparing the referendum, and calling on them to disband.

In the trial expected to take place in the upcoming months, Jordi Cuixart is facing criminal charges which could result in up to 25 years in prison should he be convicted for “rebellion”, a crime that the Spanish Criminal Code defines as “violent” uprising.

Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned about the detention of human rights defender Jordi Cuixart as it believes that his arrest, ongoing detention and the disproportionately strict charges brought against him are acts in reprisal for his work on the protection of civil and political rights.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Spain to:

  1. Immediately drop all charges against and release Jordi Cuixart as it is believed that they are solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression;
     
  2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Spain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.