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MEDEL statement on the UN Human Rights Committee decision on Baltasar Garzón

MEDEL

MEDEL issued a statement regarding the Opinion adopted on 13 July 2021 by the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations, under article 5, paragraph 4, of the Optional Protocol, in respect of Communication No. 2844/2016, presented by the Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón:

MEDEL – Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés took notice of the Opinion adopted on 13 July 2021 by the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations, under article 5, paragraph 4, of the Optional Protocol, in respect of Communication No. 2844/2016, presented by the Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón.

In that Opinion, the Committee states that it "could not conclude that his [Judge Garzon’s] interpretation of domestic law constituted serious conduct or incompetence that could justify his criminal conviction, resulting in the definitive loss of his position. The Committee also considers that the plaintiff’s conviction was arbitrary and unforeseeable as it was not based on sufficiently explicit, clear and precise provisions that accurately define the prohibited conduct, in violation of article 15, paragraph 1, of the Pact”.

As clearly stated in that Opinion, MEDEL fully subscribes that "the principle of judicial independence, a guarantee essential for the free performance of the judicial function, requires that the judge, as well as the prosecutor, are able to interpret and apply the law, and evaluate the facts and evidences freely, without being subjected to intimidation, obstruction or interference in the exercise of their function. The judge should not be subject to criminal or disciplinary actions based on the content of his decisions, except in cases of serious crime, corruption, misconduct or incompetence that makes him unfit for the position, and in accordance with procedures that respect the guarantees of fair trial. Judicial errors should be corrected by revision of the decision by a higher court."

Individual and concurring votes share this decision of the committee.

MEDEL welcomes the reaffirmation of these standards by the Human Rights Committee and reaffirms the importance of the principle of irremovability as a fundamental guarantee of the Rule of Law.

MEDEL expects that this decision will be fully considered and taken into account by the Spanish State.

16 September 2021

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