Marta Rovira, General Secretary of ERC party, exiled to Switzerland

Marta Rovira / Jordi Borràs


Marta Rovira was the parliamentary spokesperson of the pro independence coalition Junts pel Sí when the Catalan referendum of the 1st October 2017 took place. Currently, she is the general secretary of Esquerra Republicana.

On 21 March 2018, the Supreme Court prosecuted her for a crime of rebellion. On that same day, the jutge Pablo Llarena summoned Marta Rovira to decide whether she would be sent to prison or not. A few hours later, Marta Rovira left the country and exiled to Switzerland, where she has been living in since then with her partner and her daughter.

Catalonia Referendum: Who is Marta Rovira, the main face of the left-wing independence movement?. France 24 English


Marta Rovira was elected MP for the pro independence coalition Junts pel Sí in the Parliament elections on September 27, 2015. She was appointed spokesperson of the parliamentary group. She has been Secretary General of Esquerra Republicana since 2011, when Oriol Junqueras became president of the party.

As a spokesperson of Junts pel Sí, she led the parliamentary activity of the government coalition, which led to the referendum law and the law of legal transition. After the dissolution of the Parliament by the Spanish government, Marta Rovira led the list of Esquerra Republicana at the elections on 21 December 2017 together with Oriol Junqueras, who was already in prison. On the day after the election, the Supreme Court charged Marta Rovira for a crime of rebellion and summoned her at the end of February. In that hearing, Marta Rovira stated that the declaration of independence had been symbolic. The magistrate Pablo Llarena decreed her provisional freedom after the payment of a bail of € 60,000.

On 21 March 2018, the Supreme Court decided to prosecute Marta Rovira for rebellion and summoned her again to notify her the decision and to consider her precautionary imprisonment “given the gravity of the crimes”, in the words of Magistrate Llarena. Marta Rovira decided not to attend the Supreme Court’s request and to move to Switzerland, where she has been living since then. On 22 March 2018, after deciding to lead Esquerra Republicana in the elections 3 months before, Marta Rovira resigned from her seat in Parliament.

The outcome

The President of the Parliament Carme Forcadell and the other members of the government that had been previously released – Dolors Bassa, Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull and Jordi Rull – returned to prison after the hearing of 23 March. Most likely, a preventive jail would also have been issued for Marta Rovira.

In a letter addressed to the members of Esquerra Republicana, Marta Rovira expressed: “Every day, every hour, I felt my freedom limited by arbitrary judicial threats”, so that “I did not feel free and did not recognize myself.” In exile, Rovira believed that she could think and express herself freely and could take care of her daughter.

On the same day of the hearing, Pablo Llarena issued an international arrest warrant against Marta Rovira. The next day, in statements to the media, the Swiss government reiterated that Switzerland does not grant extradition for political crimes. In May 2018, Spain arrested Hervé Falciani, required by the Swiss authorities for more than a year. This gesture was interpreted as a desperate attempt to pressure Switzerland to achieve the extradition of the pro-independence politicians. 

On 9 July 2018, Marta Rovira was declared rebellious by the Supreme Court but no new extradition warrant for her has been asked after trial’s resolution on 14 October 2019, unlike the other political leaders in exile Clara Ponsatí, Lluís Puig i Toni Comín. 

Today, the status of the application is unknown, and Marta Rovira continues to live freely in Switzerland, although she is very limited when it comes to traveling due to the danger that the warrant could be activated in another country. Marta Rovira has held the position of general secretary of her party from Geneva.

Violated rights

The prosecution of Marta Rovira is a violation of the right to self-determination of peoples, enshrined in article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also constitutes an attack on freedom of thought, expression and assembly, rights that are also protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights. Marta Rovira is prosecuted for his parliamentary activity as an MP, which constitutes an act of political persecution, the aim of which is to criminalize the pro independence movement.

The international arrest warrant against Marta Rovira is an attack on the right to freedom and security, protected by article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. As shown by the process in the Supreme Court with the political prisoners, if Marta Rovira returned to Spain she would not have a fair trial -article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and article 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

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