UN experts urge political dialogue to defuse Catalonia tensions after referendum
GENEVA (4 October 2017) - UN experts* are calling for urgent dialogue in the aftermath of the vote on Catalonia’s
independence from Spain, and are stressing the need for human rights to be fully respected.
“We were deeply disturbed by the eruption of violence on Sunday, 1 October 2017, as the vote took place in Catalonia,”
the experts said in a joint statement. “A way forward has to be found through political dialogue. We urge the
re-establishment of effective dialogue as a first step to defusing the situation.
“We urge the Spanish authorities to fully respect fundamental human rights, including the rights to freedom of peaceful
assembly and association, participation in public affairs and freedom of expression,” the experts added.
The experts also called for an investigation into why hundreds of people protesting peacefully or seeking to vote and
manifest their opinions, as well as some police officers, were reportedly injured. The referendum had been declared
unlawful by Spain’s constitutional court and police attempted to stop the vote.
Annalisa Ciampi, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, stressed
that Spain had a duty to respect and protect people’s right to gather for peaceful protests.
“This requires ensuring that all measures to manage public protest and assembly are in conformity with Spain's
international obligations. Any use of force by police must be both necessary and proportionate," said Ms. Ciampi.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures
of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system,
is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific
country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis;
they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or
organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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