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OSCE/ODIHR Director disappointed by Spanish decision against monitoring of Madrid demonstration

Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), expressed his disappointment today following notification from the Spanish authorities that monitors from the Office would not be welcome at an anti-monarchy demonstration in Madrid on Saturday.

"Like all OSCE participating States, Spain has committed to guaranteeing the freedom of peaceful assembly, and the work of monitors is critical to assuring that this freedom is safeguarded," Lenarčič said. "Our Office has traditionally enjoyed good co-operation with Spain, so this turnaround is surprising."

In May, the Spanish authorities pledged their full co-operation with ODIHR assembly monitoring in the country. Late yesterday, however, the Office received notice of the authorities' change of heart.

"The sudden opposition on the part of the Spanish authorities raises concerns over their intentions tomorrow," Lenarčič said. "We call on the authorities to ensure full respect of the freedom of peaceful assembly, in line with OSCE commitments and other international human rights standards."

The demonstration tomorrow against the institution of the monarchy is most recent in a series of public assemblies ODIHR was to monitor. Over the past two years ODIHR has monitored assemblies in 13 OSCE countries, including Greece, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In November 2012, ODIHR published a report highlighting challenges and good practices identified in monitoring assemblies.

[Source: Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, OSCE, Warsaw, 27Sep13]

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