Spain: NGOs call on lawmakers not to close the doors to universal justice

The ICJ and other human rights organizations issued a public statement calling on Spanish lawmakers not to pass draft legislation that, if approved, would seriously limit Spanish courts’ ability to investigate and prosecute serious crimes under international law.

The draft legislation, tabled in Parliament by the Popular Party (PP), provides that, for cases involving allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes not occurring on Spanish territory to be investigated and prosecuted in Spain, the suspect must either be a Spanish national or a foreigner habitually resident in Spain or a foreigner who is in Spain, whose extradition has been denied by Spanish authorities.

For case of torture and enforced disappearance, the proposed legislation requires that the suspect be a Spanish national or, alternatively, that the victim be a Spanish national at the time when the crime was committed and that the suspect be present in Spain when jurisdiction is assumed.

Where these conditions are not met, the proposal would allow Spanish courts to hear cases for those crimes for which prosecution is required by international treaties where the suspect is a foreigner on Spanish soil, so long as Spain has received and denied an extradition request.

The ICJ and other organizations stressed in their statement that if enacted, this legislation would close the doors of Spanish courts to certain victims of gross human rights violations who are unlikely otherwise to be able to obtain justice, particularly within their own jurisdictions.

Spain-Universaljurisdiction-NGOsJointStatement-2014-eng (download the joint statement in English)

Spain-Universaljurisdiction-NGOsJointStatement-2014-SPA (download the joint statement in Spanish)

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