Date: 3 June, 2010
Document id: ALRC-COS-14-010-2010
Speaker: Isabel Stramwasser
A Joint Oral Statement to the 14th Session of the UN Human Rights Council from Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), and The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).
SPAIN: Independence of the Judiciary
We call on the Human Rights Council to support judicial independence.
And we call on Spain to demonstrate its commitment to human rights by taking immediate action to:
1. Ensure that no judge in Spain � including Judge Baltasar Garz�n � may be criminally charged or otherwise punished for exercising the judicial jurisdiction to interpret and apply the law.
2. Ensure an effective investigation of the state-sponsored disappearances and extrajudicial executions committed during the Spanish Civil War and under the Franco regime.
3. Repeal Spain�s 1977 Amnesty Law and enact laws to ensure that there is no limitation on the investigation and punishment of crimes against humanity, as recommended by the Human Rights Committee in January 2009.
Judge Garz�n, an investigating judge with Spain�s Audencia Nacional, was criminally charged for opening an investigation of over 114,000 continuing disappearances and unresolved executions, after parties opposed to his investigation filed a complaint. The charges allege that Judge Garz�n willfully ignored the 1977 amnesty that the Human Rights Committee recommended be repealed. Judge Garz�n has been suspended.
The prosecution and suspension of Judge Garz�n violate Spain�s duties to:
1. Protect the independence of judges; and,
2. Fight impunity and ensure accountability.
These actions have silenced Judge Garz�n and they will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on judges around the world who must decide cases of government wrongdoing.
We thank the Council for taking effective action.