International Trial Watch - Catalan Referendum Case, the platform set up to facilitate the presence of international groups as observers during the trial of the referendum on independence explained on Tuesday that they have requested five places at the Supreme Court in order to follow the trial right from the courtroom. To be precise, no fewer than 13 groups of international observers will monitor the whole trial and they will be joined by a group of 15 renowned Spanish academics, plus three independent international experts.
Among them will be the American Bar Association (founded in 1878, headquartered in Chicago and with 410,000 members) and Euromed Rights, a European network that brings together over 80 human rights groups from more than 30 countries, whose head office is in Copenhagen. At the end of the trial, the Spanish professors will publish a joint report covering basic rights and procedural guarantees, as well as any possible violations of the rights of assembly, demonstration, expression and political participation.
At a press conference held in Madrid, Alejandro Gámez (a member of ALA, one of the groups that set up the collective) stated that “given the suspicions that this case has attracted from the outset, from a democratic point of view it is imperative to have top experts and jurists monitoring it to ensure that the process is healthy and hygienic”.
Speaking on behalf of the Irídia collective —also a member of the platform—, Anaïs Franquesa explained that they aim to have representatives of five different groups in the courtroom every week and for them to take turns throughout the trial. To them it would make no sense for the Supreme Court to deny them access to the courtroom and force them to follow the sessions on TV. That is exactly what General Attorney María José Segarra indicated on Monday while speaking to the press. Segarra stated that the trial will be “very transparent” because it will be broadcast on TV and that should be enough to be able to monitor it.
Speaking to Europa Press, legal sources suggested last Monday that the Supreme Court will not reserve five places for international observers because the court believes “they are on the side of independence”.
The platform assures that it has no ties with Catalonia’s independence movement and that its members are “groups that have never spoken in favour of the right to decide or Catalan independence”, but are concerned about possible violations of article 5 of the European Convention: the right to a fair trial, as Robert Sabata explained on behalf of the Catalan Association of Human Rights.
Sabata also mentioned that in his years as an international observer he had never been denied access to a courtroom, not even in Turkey. “The individuals who will be coming over have monitored trials across the world and they have never had any problems to sit in the room. In Turkey the court allowed observers without any issues”, he insisted.