Monday, March 26, 2018

Catalan leader's arrest demonstrates totalitarian nature of EU law

If you want to know why Britain was right to vote to leave the EU, you only need look at what has happened to Catalan political leader Carles Puigdemont, who was arrested today in Germany in response to a European Union arrest warrant issued by Spain. This is the same pernicious means that Sweden used to obtain Julian Assange's arrest by Britain. Most countries require that their courts be satisfied on two criteria before they will extradite someone to another country - firstly, there must be a prima facie case made that the arrested person is guilty of a crime warranting extradition, and secondly, the crime must be an offence in the country in which the person has been arrested. The first of these criteria exists to ensure that countries seeking extradition do not trump up charges against people they want returned and the second is there mainly to guard against the extradition laws being used for political crimes. Thus, New Zealand should not extradite someone to China for the crime of dissent against the Chinese regime. The EU arrest warrant system abandons these safeguards, making the accusation of the requesting nation the only criteria for arrest and extradition.

The charges against Carles Puigdemont are wholly political. Puigdemont led his region's referendum last October that resulted in 90% support for independence despite the Spanish's state violent repression of the vote. The referendum and the campaign leading up to it were largely peaceful except for the violent response of the Spanish police. Puigdemont is in effect guilty of nothing more than Nicola Sturgeon was in seeking Scottish independence. The people of Catalonia have a legal and moral case for independence. The right to self-determination is enshrined in the United Nations' Charter and, as the US Declaration of Independence says, governments derive their just powers only from the consent of the governed.

Perhaps the most odious aspect of this case is, as Julian Assange has pointed out, the last time the Germans extradited an elected leader of Catalonia to Spain was in 1940 when the Gestapo arrested the then-president, LluĂ­s Companys, and delivered to him to Franco's Fascist regime to be executed. It is an awful parallel that exposes the totalitarian nature of the current European Union extradition law. Unfortunately many of the European Union's laws are just as undemocratic and abusive of hard-won legal rights.

Britain itself is hardly a paragon of respect for individual rights these days. It is, after all, the British authorities that are laying siege to Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, in spite of Sweden having dropped the charges that the led to the arrest warrant against him and the United Nations' concluding that Assange had been subject to arbitrary detention. But perhaps Britain might be on a path away from such rights-abusing processes with its referendum to leave the European Union.

1 comment:

paul scott said...

Excellent, I missed this, but you have put it well, and especially by expressing the totalitarian nature of the EU.