The three Spanish criminal cases against Judge Baltasar Garzón to make news.
On February 20th the Standing Committee of Spain’s Supreme Judicial Council, the governing body of judges in Spain, agreed to enforce the 11-year disqualification of Judge Baltasar Garzón. This coming Thursday the full governing body of the Council will have to confirm the removal of Garzón.
Also on February 20th, 80 human rights organizations from 32 countries, including Spain, delivered a joint letter to Spanish embassies around the world that said they considered “the temporal coincidence of these three different trials, as well as the origin of the complaints, are evidence of judicial harassment aimed against Judge Garzón. The sentence recently imposed upon him, and the other ongoing proceedings negatively affect the credibility of the Spanish judiciary, which once deserved the recognition of broad sectors of the international community for its rigor and commitment to universal jurisdiction causes and to combat organised [sic] crime. This commitment has symbolised [sic] in Garzón’s work, and for which he has risked his life.”
This letter added, “it is unacceptable and regrettable that in a democracy such as the Spanish one, the independence of justice could be weakened in such a manner, criminalizing a judge who used his independence, among others, to implement the International Law of Human Rights in its courts decisions.”
Earlier (February 8th) the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers joined the the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in a joint statement. It said it was “regrettable that Judge Garzón could be punished for opening an investigation which is in line with Spain’s obligations to investigate human rights violations in accordance with international law principles.” The statement went on to say that “Supposed errors in judicial decisions should not be a reason for the removal of a judge and, even less, for a criminal proceeding to be launched” and that “autonomy in the interpretation of the law is a fundamental element in the role of a judge and for progress in human rights.”
Meanwhile in Spain a commentator in El Pais stated that there has been a “chorus of brutal insults . . . raining down on . . . [Garzón] in the right-wing media” and that “chorus has now culminated with a war dance to celebrate his conviction.”