International Trial Watch – Catalan Referendum Case, a platform for human rights organisations, said on Tuesday in Madrid that at least 13 Catalan, Spanish and European groups intend to send international observers to follow the upcoming independence trial.

The platform made the announcement even though Spain’s Supreme Court has still not answered the request of the organisations for five seats inside the courtroom from which they can draw up their reports.

Platform representative Robert Sabata pointed out in the Madrid press conference that the organisations have never championed the right to self-determination, and that their presence will guarantee the trial’s “democratic hygiene.”

Human rights at play

“Great care must be taken when human rights are at play because political degradation can happen very quickly” he said.

The platform also pointed out that during the pre-trial phase it had detected elements that could call the trial’s integrity into question, such as continuous leaks of pertinent information before the defenses knew about its content.

According to the initiative’s coordinator, Alejandro Gámez, the trial is “one step in the civil conflict” and it is “fundamental” that there be international observers present.

Prosecutor: no need for observers in court

While the Supreme Court has yet to respond to the request for places in the courtroom, on Monday, the Spanish general prosecutor insisted there is no need for international observers at the trial as it will be “televised live.”

“A trial taking place within Spain’s judiciary is absolutely respectful towards the guarantees of everyone and offers a live broadcast… It’s hard to offer more transparency than that,” added María José Segarra.

Each organisation in the platform draws up their own weekly and biweekly reports, which are then agreed on and compiled into a joint document. The platform is funded by online donations, while none of the observers would receive any type of remuneration.

18 organisations request to be present

Among the organizations in the platform is the Chicago-based American Bar Association, with 410,000 members, the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights, with 184 state associations from 122 countries, and the Euromed Rights network, which is based in Copenhagen and includes over 80 organizations from 30 countries.

Also represented is Dublin-based Front Line Defenders, which was awarded the UN’s Human Rights Prize in 2018, Fair Trials (London), the Association of European Democratic Lawyers (AED), the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights (ELDH), Antigone (Italy), the Committee of Jurists for Human Rights (Netherlands), the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (Argentina), and the Coordination Maghrébine des Organisations des Droits Humains (CMODH).