UN officials are harshly criticizing the Spanish government's use of national police in their increasingly violent crackdown on Catalonia's upcoming referendum, warning they are violating fundamental rights that are basic to a democratic society.
The UN experts say that irrespective of the legality of the referendum itself, the Catalan public has the right to assemble publicly. They were also critical of cutting off websites, threatening the ability to debate and denying the public information.
Spain has shut down multiple websites and summoned multiple people to police stations on charges of having mirrored websites providing information on the October 1 referendum. Prosecutors have also threatened top Catalan officials with sedition charges, as well as threatening virtually all of the hundreds of Catalan mayors with charges for permitting the vote to take place.
Spanish officials have suggested they may have police physically prohibit voters from entering polling places, though local police warn this risks fueling public disorder. Catalan officials say the vote will go on as planned.