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Catalan HRD Jordi Cuixart sentenced to 9 years in prison

Status: 
Sentenced
About the situation

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.

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.

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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.

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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.