The Spanish Constitutional Court ratifies Jordi Cuixart’s conviction for sedition


Two magistrates sign a separate opinion against the ruling expressing their concern on freedom of assembly violations

The only human rights defender imprisoned in the EU will bring his case to the European Court of Human Rights

The Spanish Constitutional Court has published today its ruling ratifying the conviction of Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Cultural, to 9 years in prison for sedition. He was incarcerated, prosecuted and finally sentenced for his role in a peaceful demonstration in favour of the Catalan referendum in 2017. Now that he has exhausted all domestic remedies, Cuixart will be able to bring his case to the European Court of Human Rights, since his fundamental rights to freedom of speech and assembly have clearly been violated in Spain.

Jordi Cuixart appealed before the Constitutional Court the Supreme Court’s sentencing that found him “guilty” of sedition alleging that his rights were violated before – with his pre-trial detention – and during the trial. Yet, the court of last resort in Spain shares with this ruling the politicised Supreme Court’s views on this matter. 


However, two out of eleven magistrates, Juan Antonio Xiol and María Luisa Balaguer, signed a separate opinion on this ruling, stating their discomfort with the decision taken by the majority of the Court. According to these opinions, the Supreme Court’s sentencing undermines the right to freedom of assembly and “threatens to deteriorate democracy in Spain” aligning the country “with societies disciplined by the abuse of the penal system with the repression of actions that take place within the framework of fundamental rights”. They also defend that freedom of assembly includes the right to defend Catalonia’s independence. 

These magistrates point out that freedom of assembly “should have been particularly protected in this case” taking into account that Jordi Cuixart is a civil society leader. The judges show their concern for a deterring effect stating that “for many social groups [freedom of assembly] is one of the few means they have to publicly express their ideas”. Finally, this separate opinion claims that both the 20th September demonstration and the Catalan referendum in 2017 were peaceful and that repressing this type of actions has been deemed a “disproportionate interference” by the European Court of Human Rights in similar situations. 


Being this the last judicial resort of Jordi Cuixart within the Spanish legal framework, the civil society leader will file a lawsuit against Spain in the days to come in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Almost 4 years after his incarceration, many international organisations (UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Council of Europe…) and NGOs (Amnesty International, OMCT, Front Line Defenders, PEN International…) have denounced that all Cuixart’s acts were in the exercise of human rights and that he should be released immediately.

Òmnium Cultural is positive that Spain will be condemned for violating human rights regarding Jordi Cuixart’s case. The Spanish Judiciary has used its power to defend its political views in favour of the Spanish unity and to repress the dissidence in favour of the right to self-determination. Therefore, we believe that Jordi Cuixart will be able to find in Europe the justice that he couldn’t find in Spain.