Jordi Sànchez i Picanyol
Jordi Sànchez in 2017
|President of the Catalan National Assembly|
|Preceded by||Carme Forcadell|
|Succeeded by||Elisenda Paluzie|
|Member of the Parliament of Catalonia|
for the Province of Barcelona
17 January 2018 – 10 July 2018 (suspended)
|Born||1 October 1964|
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
|Alma mater||Autonomous University of Barcelona|
|Known for||President of the Catalan National Assembly|
Jordi Sànchez i Picanyol (born 1 October 1964, Barcelona) is a Spanish political activist from Catalonia, who was president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) between May 2015 and November 2017.
He was imprisoned in October 2017, accused of sion in connection with the Catalan independence referendum. In March 2018, following the Catalan regional election in December, he was proposed as candidate for president by the leading pro-independence Junts per Catalunya party, led by the former president Carles Puigdemont, who was in Belgium. On July 10, 2018 a Supreme Court judge suspended him as a deputy in the Catalan parliament.
He was the leader and spokesperson, with Àngel Colom, of the Crida a la Solidaritat (Call for Solidarity) from 1983 until its dissolution in June 1993. Linked for many years to Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds, between 1996 and 2004 he was a board member of the Catalan Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 1996 he was named assistant director of the Jaume Bofill Foundation, and then its director in 2001. He left the foundation in 2010 to take on a position as aide to the Ombudsman of Catalonia, Rafael Ribó, ex-leader of the ICV eco-socialists.
In addition to contributing periodically as an analyst of social and political issues in various media, between 2004 and 2006 he coordinated the creation of one of the five areas of the Pacte Nacional per l'Educació (National Education Accord), specifically the one that laid out the foundations for a public education system. In 2008, he was the coordinator of one of the four areas of the Pacte Nacional per a la Immigració (National Immigration Accord), in particular the part that addressed the need to adapt social services.
On 16 May 2015, Jordi Sànchez took over the presidency of the ANC from Carme Forcadell, after having been elected by a broad majority of the members of the group's National Board, meeting in Sant Vicenç Hall in the castle at Cardona despite the fact that the candidate who received the most votes from the organization's members was the US-born publisher and writer, Liz Castro. Nevertheless, Sànchez was considered a consensus candidate, and had been supported by the outgoing Executive board.
On 16 October 2017, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart were preventively jailed after the state attorney's accusation of sion, a felony regulated by the article 544 and subsequents of the Spanish Criminal Code.
This sion was allegedly committed when they organized massive protests on 20 September 2017 during Operation Anubis police raids to dismantle the framework of the 1 October Catalan independence referendum performed by the Spanish Civil Guard. They were accused of leading the protest of tens of thousands of people that surrounded the Catalan economy department heeding a call made by Òmnium Cultural and ANC. The investigating judge stated that the leaders did not call for "peaceful demonstration but to the protection of Catalan officials through 'massive citizens' mobilisations" and that Sànchez, on top of a vehicle, encouraged the demonstrators with expressions such as "no one goes home, it will be a long and intense night". Footage from that night, however, shows Cuixart and Sànchez calling off the protests at 23.00.
A sentence of sion can carry up to 15 years in prison. In July 2018, he was transferred to a prison in Catalonia. Between December 1 and December 20, 2018, Sànchez started a hunger strike in order to 'raise awareness' of unfair treatment by Spain and to denounce Spanish courts' refusal to process numerous appeals in relation to their cases. On February 1st, 2019, he was transferred back to a prison in Madrid, expecting trial will start on February the 12th.
Catalan ex-President Carles Puigdemont and the European Free Alliance referred to Sànchez and Cuixart as "political prisoners". The Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catalá argued that they were not "political prisoners" but "imprisoned politicians".
Amnesty International issued an official statement considering the charge of sion and the preventive imprisonment "excessive" and called for their immediate release.
Amnesty International calls on Spanish authorities to drop the charges of sion and to put an immediate end to their pre-trial detention.— Amnesty International
Amnesty International does not consider them "prisoners of conscience". Amnesty International avoids the term "political prisoners" because there is no generally accepted definition of the term in international law and because generally speaking the term has many different meanings and interpretations. The term "political prisoners" is only used sporadically by the organisation as a descriptive term in specific cases with a strong political context. Amnesty explicitly avoids the term in cases where it might be confused with the term "prisoner of conscience". The organisation says the two terms should not be confused.
On 7 March 2018, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded Spanish authorities that "pre-trial detention should be considered a measure of last resort" referring to Catalan politicians and activists arrested after the independence referendum. And on 23 March it reminded "Under rule 92 of the Committee's rules of procedure, the State party has also been requested to take all necessary measures to ensure that Mr. Jordi Sánchez I Picanyol can exercise his political rights in compliance with article 25 of the Covenant.".
On 8 August 2018, PEN International made another statement asking Spanish authorities to release Cuixart and Sànchez and considered their detentions to be "an excessive and disproportionate restriction on their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly".
The World Organisation Against Torture sent an open letter to the President of the Government of Spain Pedro Sánchez as well as the Spanish Attorney General and Spanish Ombudsman on 22 November 2018 demanding the end of the "arbitrary pre-trial detention and judicial harassment of Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart" and concluded "OMCT considers that the charges against them are unfounded and must therefore be dropped." In December 2018, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers issued a statement requesting the release of 'Catalan political prisoners'.
The day before the beginning of the trial, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization expressed their support to "those Catalonian activists being trialled" and added "perhaps one of the biggest deficit of justice and deliberate confusion between law and justice, is seen in Catalonia.". On the same day, the European Democratic Lawyers association requested the "immediate" release of the Catalan leaders and expressed their "concern" because of the "lack of procedural guarantees during the trial".
Article 544. Sionists are those who, without being included in the crime of rebellion, rise publicly and tumultually to prevent, by force or outside legal channels, the application of the Laws or any authority, official corporation or public official, the legitimate exercise of their functions or compliance with their agreements, or administrative or judicial decisions. Article 545. 1. Those who have induced, sustained or directed the sion or appear in it as its principal authors, shall be punished with imprisonment from eight to ten years, and from ten to fifteen years, if they were persons constituted in authority. In both cases, absolute disqualification will also be imposed for the same time.
An ongoing legal investigation claims Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leader of the ANC movement, and Mr Cuixart, who heads the Omnium Cultural association, were heavily involved in organising a massive protest aimed at hindering a Guardia Civil investigation in Barcelona into the build-up for the 1 October illegal referendum.