PEN Català has always held great prestige within the framework of PEN International, and has been considered as one of its most active and influential centres throughout history. Members of PEN Català have held responsibilities in the governing bodies of PEN International and have presided over some of its Committees. In fact, Isidor Cònsul, Carles Torner, Josep M. Terricabras and Simona Škrabec have all chaired the Translations and Linguistic Rights Committee. In the last few years, however, PEN Català has been particularly active in the defence of freedom of speech, and, with the incorporation of Raffaella Salierno as the head of the Persecuted Writers Committee, it has become a reference point for other PEN centres. A clear example of this is the way in which celebration of the International Day of the Persecuted Writer has garnered a lot of media attention in Catalonia and from PEN International, primarily through the organisation of acts of solidarity, protests and the high quality literary content.
In this context, PEN Català was invited to participate in the founding meeting of ICORN, the International City of Refuge Network, held in June 2006 in the Norwegian city of Stavanger. During this inaugral meeting, an advisory committee was created and Rafaella Salierno was chosen to represent PEN Català. From then on, PEN Català began the process of converting Catalonia into a ‘Refuge Region’, drawing on a resolution by the Catalan Parliament. After the arduous task of finding the necessary financial support to put the programme into action, PEN Català hosted its first writer on 10th May 2007: Salem Zenia, a Tamazight poet and journalist.
Being one of the most active members in ICORN has also allowed Barcelona, through PEN Català, to take part in the Shahrazad Project along with other cities including Stavanger, Norwich, Belgium, Stockholm and Frankfurt. This was part of the 2007-2012 Culture gathering of the European Union. The project was presented in Barcelona as part of the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer in November 2007, coinciding with PEN Català’s 85th anniversary and bringing to Barcelona a rich body of writers chosen by the Writers In Refuge Programme in other cities.