The SNP’s Christina McKelvie MSP will attend the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities at the Council of Europe this week (Tuesday and Wednesday). There she intends to raise the case of former Catalan education minister Professor Clara Ponsati, facing extradition from the UK through a European Arrest Warrant (EAW), and other Catalan politicians who are also facing arrest and extradition from countries across Europe following their support for a referendum on Catalonia’s future.
The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation, comprising 47 member states, 28 of which are members of the EU. Besides convening Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights committee, Christina McKelvie is also a representative of the Chamber of Regions in the Council of Europe.
Commenting ahead of this week’s Congress in Strasbourg, Ms McKelvie said:
“Scotland has a well-established tradition of offering sanctuary to those facing political persecution, and a proud record in defending human rights and in this case Professor Ponsati has used her right to freedom of movement to make Scotland her home.
“The SNP has made clear our opposition to the actions of the Spanish Government in relation to Catalonia.
“We will support and protect Professor Ponsati’s right to challenge this request for her extradition, as she has already indicated she intends to do.
“As extradition experts have stated, the crimes of ‘rebellion’ Clara Ponsati and her colleagues are accused of may not be criminal offences in Scotland, or elsewhere, and the law also allows the courts to prevent extradition where it appears to be driven by an individual’s political opinions – both of which are considerations that would seem to apply in this case.
“In raising this in Strasbourg I will be urging the Council of Europe, whose job is to safeguard human rights across the continent, to closely monitor these cases - and to take action to uphold individuals’ rights to their political beliefs if necessary.
“The way to solve political disagreements should be through debate and at the ballot box, not by pursuing elected politicians across the EU simply for seeking to fulfil the mandate they were elected upon.
“There is understandable public interest in the matter not just in Scotland but around Europe and it will feature high on the agenda in Strasbourg this week."