Attacks on ECCHR partner lawyer Gonzalo Boye

ECCHR submission to UN Special Rapporteur


Spanish authorities have searched the home of our colleague and lawyer Gonzalo Boye, legal representative of Carles Puigdemont and several former Catalan ministers. The action taken by the Audiencia Nacional – a centralized court with jurisdiction over the Spanish territory – in our assessment is based on the assumed identification of Mr. Boye with his clients’ cause, the Catalan independence movement.

From the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights’ (ECCHR) and other international colleagues’ points of view, the search was conducted under a false pretext and with the aim of discrediting Mr Boye as a lawyer.

“The Spanish authorities have massively attacked Boye’s work as a lawyer. This is in no way acceptable. The independence of lawyers is fundamental to any democracy. We have to be in solidarity with Gonzalo Boye, independent of the Catalan movement,” says Wolfgang Kaleck (ECCHR’s General Secretary). “The search was about destroying Boye’s reputation and professional existence. We usually only hear about such actions against lawyers from authoritarian regimes. It is shocking that something like this happened in Spain.”

The recent intervention by Spanish authorities is the latest in a series of retaliatory attacks by Spanish state and non-state actors against our colleague which we have observed in the past months. The attacks have increased to an intolerable degree and have put Mr. Boye under immense pressure.

Today, we therefore submitted a communication to the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the independence of judges and lawyers. In the communication we present the incidents and attacks against Gonzalo Boye and request the Special Rapporteur to call upon the Spanish government to ensure the neutrality of the Spanish judiciary and to take measures against attacks from any party on Mr. Boye’s free practice as a lawyer.

Serious allegations of procedural bad faith and a range of different legal actions are being used to discourage Mr. Boye in the legitimate exercise of his professional duties in the defense of his clients. The prison sentence for Catalan pro-independence leaders in Spain, imposed on 14 October 2019, has initiated a new wave of attacks against Mr. Boye, which found its present peak in the allegations of money laundering and today’s search of Mr. Boye’s house and law firm (see here), causing a new wave of insult and slander on social media.

The independence and free professional performance of lawyers are an inherent concern to ECCHR. Our special professional and friendly solidarity lies with Mr. Boye as our partner lawyer. The initiative is supported by different law associations and human rights lawyers standing up for the independence of lawyers all around Europe and signed by:

Wolfgang Kaleck (General Secretary, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)), Florian Borg (General Secretary, Avocats européens démocrates (AED/EDL)), William Bourdon (Board of Directors, Sherpa), Bill Bowring (President, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights (ELDH/EJDM)), Hans Gaasbeek (Director, Day of the Endangered Lawyer), Thomas Schmidt (General Secretary, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights (ELDH/EJDM)), and Peer Stolle (Chairman, Republikanischer Anwältinnen- und Anwälteverein (RAV)).

Wolfgang Kaleck is available for interviews.

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To counter injustice with legal interventions – this is the aim and daily work of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck and other international human rights lawyers to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other human rights declarations and national constitutions, through legal means.

Together with those affected and partners worldwide, ECCHR uses legal means to end impunity for those responsible for torture, war crimes, sexual and gender-based violence, corporate exploitation and fortressed borders.

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