Rosalina Moreno 21 December 2022
Some twenty associations and thousands of citizens support a manifesto against the reform of the Penal Code and in defence of the constitutional order
The manifesto of the Association for the Defence of the Values of the Transition has been sent by Citizens Pro Europe to the European institutions so that they are aware of the reform that aims to eliminate the crime of sedition and reduce the crime of embezzlement.
Among the signatories are former ministers and personalities from the world of Justice. In the picture, from left to right, from top to bottom, some of them: Andrés Cassinello, Ignacio Sierra Gil de la Cuesta, Eligio Hernández, José Luis Corcuera, Teresa Freixes, José Domingo, Ángel Escolano, and Ana Losada.
Some twenty associations and thousands of citizens have supported a manifesto against the reform of the Penal Code and in defence of the constitutional order promoted by the Association for the Defence of the Values of the Transition (ADVT), which has been sent this week by Citizens Pro Europe to the European institutions to inform them of the reform that aims to eliminate the crime of sedition and reduce the crime of embezzlement and the rejection of the citizenship to the same.
The Association for the Defence of the Values of the Transition, made up of people from different political backgrounds, after examining the Proposed Organic Law of the PSOE and United We Can and its amendments that reduce the embezzlement of public funds and abolish the crime of sedition as defined in the 1995 Penal Code, felt “the civic duty” to express its “opposition to its orientation” and wanted to convey this to the Government, legislators and Spanish society.
Therefore, at the beginning of December, it drew up a manifesto and circulated it, leaving it open to further endorsements.
So far, the list of entities and individuals who support the manifesto is 49 pages long.
The signatories reject “the actions of the Government whose purpose is to obtain at any price the parliamentary support of the separatist parties and those who are against the Constitution”.
The signatory organisations and individuals denounce the actions of the coalition Government and the legislative procedure chosen for a Proposition of Organic Law “whose purpose has been to disregard the relevant reports from the highest consultative bodies and the necessary rationalisation and debate of a legal problem of such importance”.
“It should not be forgotten that the truth is to be found in the search procedure”, they stress.
The signatories reject the actions of the Government whose purpose, “beyond the rhetorical arguments put forward, is none other than to obtain at any price the parliamentary support of pro-independence and anti-constitutionalist parties that on this occasion demand the suppression of the crime of sedition and the deactivation for a few of the crime of embezzlement”.
“The purpose of this imposition is none other than to exempt from the penalties of sedition and embezzlement and disqualification those who acted criminally against the Constitution, the territorial integrity of Spain and democratic coexistence by unilaterally declaring, outside the Generalitat’s own laws, the independence of Catalonia,” the manifesto stresses.
“Changing the crimes of sedition and embezzlement will be an incentive to attack the Constitution and the current democratic legal system”.
And it warns that the current classification of the crime against territorial integrity as a simple public disorder will be “a stimulus” to encourage behaviour that undermines the Constitution and the current democratic legal system.
The signatories call on the proposing parliamentary groups to “immediately withdraw” the articles of the Proposed Organic Law in all that refers to the offences of embezzlement, sedition, and the classification of aggravated public disorder, “the effect of which will be to increase the penalties for the rights of assembly and demonstration”.
Likewise, they call on our representatives in the Spanish Parliament to “urgently” classify a crime against the Constitution with the penalties included in the penal codes of the most advanced European nations, “to avoid a legal vacuum that could further divide democratic coexistence among Spaniards”.
THE MANIFESTO AND THE WRITTEN STATEMENT BY CITIZENS PRO EUROPE TO THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS AND POLITICAL GROUPSDOWNLOAD
FORMER MINISTERS AND PERSONALITIES FROM THE WORLD OF JUSTICE, AMONGST THE SIGNATORIES
THE REASONING BEHIND THE REJECTION OF THIS REFORM
Firstly, the manifesto of the Association for the Defence of the Values of the Transition points out that the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, did not mention in his investiture speech, in January 2019, the modification of the crimes of sedition and rebellion, that the reform of sedition was neither an electoral commitment nor a subsequent agreement with United Podemos, and that the European Union has not demanded the reform of the crime of sedition in Spain, let alone its replacement by a crime of public disorder.
He asserts that the Government “has resorted to the ruse of amalgamating in an Omnibus Law the modification of the Organic Law of the Penal Code with other articles of the Organic Law of the Judiciary and the Organic Law for the Repression of Smuggling, which might need some adaptation to European Directives that have nothing to do with the Penal Code or the crime of sedition”.
“The diversion of public funds to carry out acts against the state and territorial integrity is left unpunished, which is even more harmful than personal gain”.
And he stresses that although Sánchez wants to justify this Bill “to supposedly bring Spanish legislation into line with that of the European Union on the pretext that the penalties in European countries are lower than those in Spain”, this “is not true, because it cannot be ignored that the Spanish Penal Code allows the penalty for sedition to be reduced to two years and because the crime of sedition is punished in Europe in a similar way to Spain”.
Thus, it indicates that the question is not in the name of the crime, but in knowing whether the acts punished by the current type of sedition in Spain are punished with lesser penalties outside our borders, and points out that despite the formal differences and criminal legislative traditions of each country, the crimes and penalties for sedition in our Penal Code are very similar to those in other countries around us such as Germany, France and Italy.
The manifesto denounces that with this reform of the Penal Code “it is intended that an attempt to break the constitutional order is now called an aggravated public disorder, with a maximum reduction in the sentences that the fugitives would serve and leaving the door open for those pardoned to see their disqualification eliminated and to be able to run for election shortly”.
It also stresses that the constitutional order “is not protected” with a new crime of disorder against the public peace. In this sense, it indicates that a new typology should necessarily refer to another legal right such as constitutional loyalty, and that criminal offences should be created around it with the conducts of pro-independence impositions according to their seriousness, among which are the attempt to separate a part of the national territory, which would be the most serious offence, followed by others such as the refusal to recognise the head of state.
The manifesto emphasises that what happened in October 2017 in Catalonia was not mere disorder, nor were its perpetrators convicted for a specific act against public order but was “a challenge to the legitimate power and the constitutional order that emanates from popular sovereignty, with a series of acts aimed at independence with mass mobilisations, the laws of disconnection and acts of judicial and police delegitimisation”.
The world of Justice in Catalonia dismantles the allegations of the Government on the lowering of the crime of sedition.
He adds that “it is common knowledge that Esquerra Republicana de Cataluña was not going to be satisfied with the suppression of sedition and that the Government does not have a no for the pro-independence group” and that for this reason “they present the amendment on embezzlement and thus obtain exemption from criminal liability or its reduction to the minimum for the perpetrators of the serious criminal episodes of 2017 and that for the future it is left criminally atypical to divert public funds from all Spaniards to carry out acts against the State and against its State. The Government has not said no to the pro-independence group” and that for this reason “they present the amendment on embezzlement and thus achieve exemption from criminal liability or its reduction to a minimum for the perpetrators of the serious criminal episodes of 2017 and that for the future the diversion of public funds of all Spaniards to carry out acts against the State and against its territorial integrity, which is even more damaging than personal gain, is criminally atypical”.
“It is a mockery to talk about this deflation when all those condemned have not renounced unilateralism and have declared that they will try again.”
“We cannot be fooled by what the official discourse calls deflation of the Catalan conflict nor by the argument of maintaining political balances that in reality are non-existent, as can be seen with the permanent political conflict that blocks parliamentary majorities in the Parliament of Catalonia, with the flight of hundreds of companies from the Catalan economy, with the permanent disobedience to the rulings of the Constitutional Court and the Courts in Catalonia and the pressure on judges and courts, as well as the systematic boycott of Spanish as a vehicular language and of young people being able to study in this official language”, warns the manifesto.
And it maintains that “it is a mockery to speak of this deflation when all those condemned have not renounced unilateralism and have declared that they will try again”.
In this sense, it recalls that “the president of the Generalitat himself has stated that this penal reform will make it more difficult to pursue independence and that they have managed to lower the price for when they try again”.
The manifesto also points out that “agreeing the wording of the crime with the criminals who have committed it is an unusual act that, yes, lacks any homologation in Europe”.
“Therefore, this perversion of criminal law by means of a particular law for a few people and a submission to pro-independence pretensions, which obey the need to count on the votes of ERC and Bildu for the Budget and who knows what else, cannot count on our silence”, conclude the signatories and demand that this reform of the Penal Code be reversed.
Sánchez plans to reform the LOPJ and the LOTC in the same way that the Constitutional Court overturned them.
The Government intends that its parliamentary group will register this week in Congress a bill that includes the spirit of the two amendments that the Constitutional Court has suspended for its own renovation, according to parliamentary sources.
The same sources have revealed that this bill will be passed as a matter of urgency and to this end they have already spoken to several groups that have censured the Constitutional Court’s decision to get them to join the initiative.
Therefore, they do not rule out the possibility that the rest of the parliamentary groups that supported the reform of the Penal Code that went ahead last Thursday in the Congress of Deputies will join the bill.
In other words, PSOE, United Podemos plus ERC, PNV, PDeCAT, Más País and Bildu.
This reform also included the modification of the election of the two judges of the Constitutional Court who should be appointed by the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), which has finally been paralysed following the ruling of the Constitutional Court.
THEY DO NOT RULE OUT JANUARY
The parliamentary sources consulted have indicated that there have already been talks between these groups and it is likely that they will register the initiative this week.
In other words, they are going to repeat the same methodology that provoked the intervention of the Constitutional Court due to the presentation of the appeal for protection presented by the PP. There is no question of sending the bill to the Council of State, the Attorney General’s Office, and the General Council of the Judiciary for their respective reports.
Everything seems to indicate that the government wants to teach the TC a lesson to make it clear who is in charge.
They also indicate that there is still the possibility that the text that is finally presented may have some differences with respect to what has been discussed so far, but they specify that the aim of this procedure is to approve the two amendments to unblock the CGPJ and the TC.
They also specify that this procedure does not necessarily have to be carried out in a single reading, but they do point out that it will be carried out by urgent procedure. In this sense, the aim is for the new bill to be approved before the end of the year, although they do not rule out using the month of January – when there is usually no parliamentary activity – if it is not possible to move it forward before then.
UNIDAS PODEMOS, CAUTIOUS
In this sense, United Podemos met yesterday morning with parliamentary allies to form a common parliamentary front to unblock the renewal of the TC, although it also believes it is necessary, without pressuring the PSOE, to sponsor another specific initiative to lower the majorities to elect new members of the General Council of the Judiciary.
Sources familiar with the contacts between the two coalition partners have already indicated this morning that there is a high degree of conviction that there will be a new bill to reform the renewal of the TC and that the PSOE is practically in favour of this route.
These sources stress that the intention is to promote new legislative measures, in line with the alternative plan that the coalition already had in mind in the event of the suspension of the parliamentary processing of the reform introduced in the changes to the Penal Code.
However, the confederal group is still cautious, especially with regard to the dates of registration, given that it would be appropriate to wait for the TC’s ruling to study its content in order to put together the new legislative proposal.