The Bar Human Rights Committee has published the formal trial observation notes from its observations at the Catalan Referendum Trial in February 2019.
The observations of the hearing of the 12 former members of the Catalan government took place from 19 to 20 February at the Supreme Court Madrid on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 February. The observation was conducted by Professor Bill Bowring, an Executive Committee member of BHRC and President of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH).
The report raised concern that, while the hearings observed were conducted correctly by the 7 judges, the nature of the offences charged as well as the simultaneous prosecution by the Public Prosecution Ministry, by the Solicitor General of the State, and by VOX, the recently established far-right political party, “tends to undermine the right of the accused to a fair trial.”
In the report, Professor Bowring stated “such vague, broadly defined offences of rebellion and sedition, carrying lengthy terms of imprisonment, risks violation of the principle of legality, as well as amounting to an arbitrary and disproportionate interference with human rights, especially freedom of expression and freedom of assembly (Article 10 and 11 ECHR)”