Ben Emmerson, international lawyer for political prisoners Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, has sent the UN a letter asking them to carry out an “exhaustive and independent” investigation into the Spanish government for discrediting the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s opinion asking for their release. According to Emmerson, this was not an “honest mistake” but “deliberate and dishonest manipulation to discredit the UN itself.”

He has asked the UN to disregard the Spanish government’s complaints and to open an inquiry into their reactions that would lead to a report and a possible censure motion since “they are clearly violating the UN Charter’s founding principles.”

Emmerson’s clients Junqueras, Sànchez and Cuixart are currently in preventive detention for their role surrounding the 2017 independence bid. On Friday the Supreme Court decided against releasing all jailed pro-independence leaders before their trial’s verdict is out, which is not expected until fall, but they have been allowed to be transferred back to Catalan prisons from the Madrid centers they are at.

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention report

The UN Working Group made their opinion on the matter public in late May, saying that the imprisonment of three pro-independence officials is contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and the right to equal access to public services in their country.

The Spanish government response followed swiftly, casting doubt on the “impartiality” and “independence” of the report. In an official statement, the executive led by Socialist Pedro Sánchez affirmed that it is “especially serious” that the paper was published shortly before the case against the defendants is over in the Supreme Court: “It is a sad circumstance that could be interpreted as interference in the criminal case underway.”