Spain: Congress approves amnesty for separatists

The Spanish Congress has passed the controversial amnesty law which decriminalises most of the actions committed in Catalonia in the name of proclaiming independence, in particular the holding of an independence referendum in 2017. The amnesty was part of the coalition government's deal with the Catalan separatists, who in return helped the coalition to stay in office after the inconclusive general election.

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El Mundo (ES) /

Immoral and counterproductive

El Mundo rages:

“The amnesty that Congress passed yesterday with a wafer-thin majority of six deputies is not only immoral in its basic motivation - impunity in exchange for power - but also manifestly useless for achieving the two goals the prime minister set himself after the parliamentary elections of 23 July. The law does not open an era of harmony but erects a wall of discord. And it does not guarantee the government even a minimum of stability. ... The scenario that is now unfolding is unpredictable. ... Spain is deepening the instability that has prevailed in separatist, divided and impoverished Catalonia over the past decade.”

El País (ES) /

There was an amnesty after the dictatorship too

El País underlines the importance of the separation of powers:

“Judges will have to apply the amnesty. They will release separatist prisoners, expunge criminal records, refrain from issuing arrest warrants and allow exiles to return. They will be obliged to do this since the text states that the legislature is to determine 'the criteria for benefiting from the amnesty' and the judiciary is to identify 'the specific individuals' who benefit from it. This is determined by the separation of powers in a democracy: no judge may pass laws, no member of parliament may pass judgements. ... Those who criticise the amnesty as the work of its own beneficiaries are ignorant of history. The 1977 amnesty [signed after the end of the dictatorship and considered exemplary] was drawn up by a political class that benefited greatly from it.”

ABC (ES) /

Covert constitutional reform for government to stay in power

ABC suspects the government has ulterior motives for this move:

“The Senate's lawyers describe the process agreed by the government and its partners as a covert constitutional reform. Such an initiative should clearly be implemented through a motion to amend the constitution. ... From a purely political perspective, the text also calls for public communication measures which it says are necessary to promote a supposed social reconciliation. No neutral observer can fail to see that this reconciliation is nothing more than an alibi for those who want to stay in power.”