On November 3, 2017, a group of scholars, politicians, public intellectuals, and European Union Parliament Members sent an open letter to European Council President, Donald Tusk, and European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker. The letter expresses concern for a recent violation of the Rule of Law in Spain.
What Exactly Does ‘Rule of Law’ Refer to?
Rule of Law is the basic governing principle for Member States of the European Union. This policy ensures that laws are enforced, while maintaining democratic relations and preventing power from being concentrated too heavily within one governing body.
Aside from dealing with the enforcement of law, the Rule of Law must also support the basic rights, freedoms, and safety of its citizens.
Referendum on Catalan Independence
A major issue brought up in the open letter was the ban enacted on the Referendum on Catalan Independence, which was scheduled for October 1, 2017.
While attempting to avoid discussion of an illegal succession, the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal violated the basic rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. Similarly, the Tribunal banned the Catalan Parliament session, which was scheduled for October 9, 2017.
Violence and Unjust Arrests
Spanish authorities have also taken measures such as violence against protestors and use of repressive force against media, companies, and citizens. In fact, internet networks were actually shut down to repress freedom of expression.
Furthermore, peaceful activists – named Jordi Culxart and Jordi Sanchez – were criminally charged with sedition and imprisoned, despite only exercising their rights.
Call to Action
The open letter is at its basis a call to action directed at the European Union. If the European Union wishes to remain accountable in its aims to uphold the Rule of Law and basic human rights, it must reform the practices of its member states such as Spain.
If it continues to allow unjust practices to continue, the European Union is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Lisbon Treaty. This call to action cannot be ignored.
The cooperative effort of so many intellectuals to communicate with officials through this letter demonstrates the depth and the widespread nature of the concern regarding the recent political turmoil in Spain. The response of President Tusk and President Juncker to this letter will be key in further regulation of the Rule of Law.
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