MANIFESTO ON THE LAW REFORM INTRODUCING LIMITATIONS TO THE EXERCISE OF UNIVERSAL JUSTICE

02/06/2009
Press release
en es

On Tuesday 2 June at 11am, at the headquarters of the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España (APDHE), the most relevant human rights organisations and law experts present a joint manifesto to defend universal justice in Spain.

MANIFESTO ON THE LAW REFORM INTRODUCING LIMITATIONS TO THE EXERCISE OF UNIVERSAL JUSTICE

1.- The Spanish majority political parties (PSOE and PP) have agreed to amend section 23 of the Spanish Organic Law on the Judiciary, which sets forth the principle of universal jurisdiction relating to certain crimes, in order to limit its scope, although, in fact, the text of the announced reform would completely distort its content and meaning. The hasty and rigor-lacking framework used –taking advantage of the processing of amendments to the Project of Reform Law of the Procedural Legislation for the Implementation of the Judicial Office– removes the reform from the necessary informed discussion required by the issue.

2.- The universal justice principle is an achievement which cannot be waived by any democratic society and a breakthrough in the defence of Human Rights acknowledged at a universal level in a global society. It is part of the international justice system, which defends the interests and values of the community as a whole, beyond state or private interests, and enables that such international crimes do not remain unpunished.

3.- Current international law requires all States to prosecute, due to their special seriousness, certain international crimes, wherever they may occur and regardless of the nationality of the aggressors and their victims, because behaviours of such a hateful nature –which furthermore remain unpunished– go beyond the victims, amount to an offence against humanity as a whole and jeopardize the general principles of civilisation embodied in the regulations protecting fundamental Human Rights.

4.- Spain, as a pioneering country and a reference in the development and enforcement of this principle, must be proud of the assumption by its courts of the universality of its criminal jurisdiction as an expression of its solidarity commitment towards the universal nature of Human Rights and the struggle against the impunity of the most serious crimes, thus contributing to the defence of their victims’ right to truth, justice and redress.

Current regulation of the universal jurisdiction principle in the Spanish law –and in international treaties to which Spain is a party– has enabled the prosecution of the most serious institutionalised attacks against Human Rights and, in particular, in such cases in which their effective prosecution in the country in which they have been performed is non existent and/or highly unlikely, on account of being State crimes, thus enabling to claim for the individual criminal liability of its authors and avoid the impunity of those committing such horrendous crimes.

All of this ennables the democratic nature of our judicial system and the moral height of this country in the collective commitment towards the defence of Human Rights. This commitment will be all the greater, if possible, while there is not an international criminal court which may exercise its jurisdiction effectively.

5.- It is indeed alarming that our political officials have agreed the introduction of limitations to the current law in the wake of affairs affecting world powers. It may well seem that the need to limit the protection of Human Rights arises only with regard to powerful nations.

Madrid, June the second, two thousand and nine

SIGNATURES SUPPORTING THE MANIFESTO
ON THE LAW REFORM INTRODUCING LIMITATIONS TO
THE EXERCISE OF UNIVERSAL JUSTICE
- See document enclosed

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