On 7 August 2018, Carles Torner, Executive Director of
PEN International, visited civil society leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi
Sànchez, currently held in Lledoners prison near Barcelona, at the request of a
family member. They have been held in pre-trial detention since 16 October 2017
on charges of sedition and rebellion, which carry
sentences of up to 10 and 30 years in prison.
PEN International has expressed
concern about the use of judicial measures to clamp down on democratic
debate in Catalonia and the use, in some
cases, of pre-trial detention for criminal charges for non-violent
expression of dissenting political opinion. Most recently, PEN International condemned
the Spanish Supreme Tribunal’s decision to confirm the conviction of rapper
Valtònyc to three and a half years of imprisonment as well as the chilling
effect of the so-called ‘gag law’ on artistic freedom.
Together with other
human rights organisations, PEN International believes that the ongoing
pre-trial detentions of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez are an excessive and
disproportionate restriction on their right to freedom of expression and
peaceful assembly. PEN International calls on Spanish authorities to drop the charges of sedition and rebellion against them and
to put an immediate end to their pre-trial detention.