Call to put an end to harassment against Judge Baltasar Garzón

Press release
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Paris - Geneva, May 3, 2010. On April 25, 2010, several demonstrations took place, in particular in Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Argentina, to express solidarity with Judge Baltasar Garzón, who has been subject to judicial persecution by some members of the Spanish judiciary, for his struggle in favour of the implementation of international human rights law and of the rights of victims.

It is surprising that the only judge who has dared to respond to the demands of victims of crimes against humanity committed by the Franco regime, is subject to criminal persecution and might face a suspension of his functions as a judge. Meanwhile, Spain continues to breach its international obligations and more particularly the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

On April 23, 2010, Judge Garzón submitted a request for recusing the Judge of the Supreme Court who has been instructing the judicial case against him, arguing that this magistrate had a "direct interest" and a certain "bias" in the procedure. This judge has also denied the evidence solicited by the defence and made unacceptable statements against Judge Garzón. The recusation request was declared admissible, and the case could be resolved within three weeks.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders[1] conducted an international solidarity mission in support of Mr. Garzón - together with the Spanish Human Rights Association - at the end of March. The team was made up of Mr. Louis Joinet, Honorary Attorney General to the French Cassation Court, former Independent Expert for the United Nations and former UN Special Rapporteur for the fight against impunity, Mr. Luis Guillermo Perez, Secretary-General of FIDH, and Mr. Francisco Soberón, Director of the Association for Human Rights (APRODEH - Peru).

The mission noted that the other cases opened against the judge lack precedents in Spain, and underlined that one cannot prosecute a judge for interpreting the law in a distinct manner as the interpretation of other judges.

The mission also concluded that a persecution aimed at damaging the public image of the Judge and at putting an end to his legal career is currently ongoing. The Observatory considers that the credibility of the Spanish judiciary as a whole and the image of Spanish democracy risk being affected by these cases against the Judge.

A video documentary on the international solidarity mission of the Observatory is now available online:

During this solidarity mission, an open letter of support for Mr. Garzón, signed by some sixty human rights organisations from a number of countries and more than 150 jurists, lawyers, judges, university lecturers and human rights activists of different nationalities was submitted to the Spanish authorities:

For further information, please contact:

* FIDH: Karine Appy: + 33 1 43 55 25 18
* OMCT: Eric Sottas: + 41 22 809 49 39


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