UN Rapporteur finds Spain failed to comply with international law following former judge Baltasar Garzón trial – JURIST

A UN Human Rights Committee on Follow-Up Rapporteur Friday published findings that Spain failed to implement a landmark United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decision in the Baltasar Garzón v Spain case.

The report was sent directly to Garzón’s international legal representative, Helen Duffy, of Human Rights in Practice. Speaking on the report, Human Rights in Practice released a statement claiming that its content:

… makes clear that Spain has wholly failed to implement the UN Committee’s 2021 decision in the Garzón v Spain case. […] The Spanish state’s failure to provide any meaningful response is an affront to the authority of the UN Committee and to Spain’s international legal obligations under the ICCPR.

As a background to the case, in 2021, the UNHRC found that Garzón’s dismissal as a judge and his subsequent criminal prosecution, due to his work on crimes against humanity and corruption cases, were unfair and arbitrary. Ultimately, the UN sought that, in response, Spain should make full reparation to Garzón and required the Spanish government to report on the steps they had taken to address this issue within 180 days.

However, two years later, Spain responded to the UNHRC, noting that no meaningful steps had been taken in this regard. In the statement, Human Rights in Practice highlighted that under international law:

states are obliged to provide reparation that includes restitution, compensation and “guarantees of non-repetition” to ensure that such cases cannot arise in the future. In a case such as this, this includes payment of damages, the “expungement” of unjustified criminal records and undertaking the legal and judicial reform which is necessary to safeguard judicial independence.

Garzón has not been reinstated as a member of the judiciary and has not had his criminal record cleared. As a result, as reported by Duffy and Human Rights in Practice, the UN Committee issued a “condemnatory resolution” which found that on compensation and expungement of criminal records, the Spanish government’s response is “unsatisfactory” because it is not relevant or does not implement the recommendation.” The findings are more apparent regarding the broader measures needed to ensure non-repetition as the state’s response goes against or rejects” the UN body’s recommendation.

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