The Catalan Ombudsman appears before the British Parliament to explain the situation of human rights in Catalonia



Two witnesses rejected by the Spanish Supreme Court, the Catalan ombudsman and a former chief constable of the Police Service in Northern Ireland, appear before the British Parliament

People who wanted to lodge complaints met with the Catalan Ombudsman

The Catalan Ombudsman will participate in a seminar on the improvement of the Ombudsman's service through new powers at the University of Aberystwyth

The Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, appeared before the British Parliament to deliver the speech "The situation of human rights in Catalonia: dialogue and freedom appeal", in the Margaret Thatcher room, at the Portcullis House in London. The event, organized by The All Party Parliamentary Group On Catalonia (APPC), has given voice to two of the witnesses excluded by the Spanish Supreme Court in the special cause on Catalan separatist leaders: on the one hand, the Catalan Ombudsman; and, on the other, Sir Hugh Orde, former chief constable of the Police Service in Northern Ireland and former president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), who wrote a report regarding 20-S demonstration and October 1st referendum in Catalonia, concluding that in both cases the crowds had no intention of being violent or committing a crime.

Within the framework of his speech, the Catalan Ombudsman, who has the duty to protect and defend rights and freedoms in Catalonia, offered the audience a summary of the main actions carried out by the institution as a result of the political and legal reactions of the State before these events regarding fundamental rights. The speech was based on the three reports submitted to Parliament on this matter, which include, among others, the irregularities committed by the Parliament of Catalonia, the violence committed by the Spanish security forces during the referendum and subsequent concerns about other violation of rights, including freedom of expression and assembly, abolition of self-government and criminal disproportion, and rights to participation and political representation.

In addition, as a result of the culmination of the hearing phase of special cause 20907/2017 of the Spanish Supreme Court, and once the trial is set for judgment, he has called for political dialogue, participation and freedom, as the only way to solve the Catalan conflict.

Attention to people in London

At the facilities of the Government of Catalonia in London, the Catalan Ombudsman also attended the people who wanted to lodge complaints and queries, in accordance with its competence scope. In this regard, the Catalan Ombudsman met with sixteen people of Catalan origin residing in the United Kingdom who brought up some problems that will be studied and dealt with by the institution, especially with regards to their difficulties to exercise the right to vote in elections called for in Spain. The Catalan Ombudsman explained them the recommendation issued by the institution, in particular that it is necessary to regulate alternative voting mechanisms that allow the exercise of the right of active suffrage to be remotely (remotely) in a simpler way for voters.

The Catalan Ombudsman launched the itinerant office service in 1996, and currently goes four times a week to several municipalities in Catalonia. This is the first time that it provides the service to people outside Catalonia.

Seminar on best practices in the improvement of the public service of the ombudsmen (new powers and possibilities)

Finally, the Catalan Ombudsman has been invited to participate in the seminar on best practices, organized by the Welsh Ombudsman, in the framework of the International Ombudsman Institute and the Ombudsman Association (which brings together all the ombudsmen, public and private, of the United Kingdom and Ireland).

The seminar, which will  be taking place at the University of Aberystwyth on Friday, 21st June, 2019, analyses from different perspectives the improvement of the public service of the ombudsman offices through the acquisition of new powers, as well as the possibilities and the challenges that entails. In this regard, the Catalan Ombudsman will be analysing the experience of ex officio actions, power recently acquired by the Welsh Ombudsman.

Rafael Ribó, as European President of the IOI and Ombudsman of Catalonia, already participated in the same university in a seminar in October 2016, in which he explained the potentialities of ex officio proceedings.