THE UN’s special rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, has called for jailed Catalonian independence activist Jordi Cuixart to be freed.

Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the civic leader’s imprisonment for his role in the 2017 independence referendum.

Writing in The National, Cuixart reveals the grim reality of life in a Spanish prison, saying that he’s forced to spend 23 hours a day in a room measuring just eight square metres. However, the father of two young children makes clear that he would make the same choices as before.

He says he accepts his status as “a political prisoner” as every day behind bars “has meaning because I am also fighting for their future.”

He was handed a nine-year sentence after being convicted of sedition. Unlike the other eight imprisoned, Cuixart is not a politician, he is the head of Omnium Cultural, a Catalonian cultural association.

READ MORE: Jordi Cuixart: I have spent three years in prison but I’d do it all again

He was arrested with Jordi Sanchez, president of the Catalan assembly, after the pair were filmed standing on top of a police car addressing demonstrators in the days before the referendum.

They were accused of inciting protest against police, though footage clearly shows the two men calling for the crowd to disband.

Taking to Twitter, Lawlor said it was time for Cuixart to be freed.

She tweeted: “Today marks the third year in detention for Catalan #humanrightsdefender Jordi Cuixart.

“In 2019, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found his detention to violate both the [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] and [the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] and deemed it arbitrary. He should be released.”

In his column, Cuixart says he does not expect the courts in Spain to agree with Lawlor.

“The Spanish authorities want me to apologise for exercising the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. My case is now before the Spanish constitutional court, but I know we can never expect justice from politicised courts.”