Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tito Drago, "RIGHTS-SPAIN: ‘Universal Justice’ Threatened," IPS, June 23, 2009.

[Spain's universal jurisdiction law and its implementation were seen as a solution to the "institutional conflict of interest" that comes into play when national courts attempt to try violators of international laws. As Amnesty International puts it,

"Recognizing that impunity exists mainly when the national authorities of countries affected by the crimes fail to act, it is important that the national criminal and civil justice systems of all countries can step in to prosecute the crimes on behalf of the international community and award reparations to victims."
As this IPS article points out, an international criminal may be "well-loved and well-known" at home. National courts are notoriously polite to their own nationals where international crimes are concerned. The Bronze Star awarded to the drugged American pilot who accidentally killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and Ariel Sharon's loss of a cabinet portfolio for his role in the Sabra and Chatilla massacres are classic examples. But the list goes on.

In Canada and the US, "self-regulation" is a concept appropriated from individual psychology where it is a laudable, if not fully achievable, aspiration. Transferred to the legal realm where it is used, largely by ideologues who don't believe in regulation, to create the illusion that corporate entities and collectives of professionals such as police, doctors and educators embody such specialized and arcane values that they can be regulated (if at all) by no one but themselves. Environmental self-monitoring and self-regulation are the norm in British Columbia. It does save money.

IPS doesn't identify the interests behind the change in the Spanish legislation, but it does quote Mónica Cavagna, head of the Asociación Argentina Pro Derechos Humanos de Madrid (Argentine human rights association of Madrid), who describes the new law as "an effort to merge the interests of the people with the interests of their governments." It also cites Spanish lawyer Gonzalo Boyé, who told IPS the law "would demonstrate that political and economic interests are stronger than respect for the law." -jlt]

MADRID, Jun 23 (IPS) - Spain, considered a pioneer in the area of universal justice and especially legal action in human rights cases, is about to take a step backwards in that regard. On Tuesday, activists and legal experts criticised a draft law that would limit the Spanish courts’ ability to investigate human rights abuses committed in other countries.

Leading jurists called together Monday and Tuesday by a score of human rights groups to discuss the situation agreed that the draft law to be introduced by the Spanish government to Congress Thursday would undermine human rights advances made in this country’s legislation.

   68 cases of crimes committed outside of Spain are currently being prosecuted here, including those investigated by the internationally renowned Garzón.

Read the rest here =>
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