PRESS RELEASE: International NGOs call on Spanish court to drop terrorism accusations against Catalan activists

27 February 2024 | Press

A group of European and international NGOs have urged the Spanish authorities to protect fundamental freedoms after a court launched an investigation into 12 Catalan activists, accusing them of terrorism. The call comes after a large gathering of journalists, civil society and trade unions took place in Barcelona in support of the 12.

In a statement initiated by the European Civic Forum, the NGOs, including Amnesty International and the World Organisation Against Torture, call on the court to drop the accusations, which are part of a Europe-wide trend of misusing anti-terrorism legislation to stifle the freedoms of assembly and expression.

On 26 February, around 200 people gathered in Barcelona to show their support for the 12 activists, under the banner “Protesting is not terrorism” (protestar no es terrorisme).

The event launched a joint manifesto signed by over 150 organisations (including NGOs and trade unions) and over 100 individuals. The manifesto expresses solidarity with the accused and calls on the court to drop the investigation.

A duty to protect fundamental rights, not stifle them

In November 2023, after 4 years of judicial investigation veiled in secrecy, the Spanish National Court announced that the activists were under investigation for terrorism in connection with their alleged participation in the activities of the Tsunami Democratic movement.

The actions being investigated relate to the protests in 2019 against the Spanish Supreme Court’s conviction of the Catalan independence leaders over their role in the independence movement.

The UN and the Council of Europe have already asked for the release of the leaders, while international observers have raised suspicions that the trial was politicised.

In their statement, the NGOs said:

“The right to peaceful assembly is a cornerstone of democratic societies, enshrined in both national, European and international law. […]

“In solidarity with the Catalan individuals facing the accusations, we call for the immediate dropping of the charges of terrorism. State authorities have a duty to protect and facilitate fundamental rights, not stifle them.”