In a significant development, the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) in Spain has taken a decisive step in its fight against amnesty for those charged in the Catalan independence process. The CGPJ, whose mandate expired almost five years ago, has sent a strong message to Europe by opposing the amnesty measure approved recently.
The CGPJ’s Declaration to Europe
The CGPJ has sent a declaration opposing the amnesty measure to several prominent European figures, including Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Vera Jourova, Vice President of the European Commission.
This declaration also highlights the “grave episodes of attack on the rule of law, separation of powers, and judicial independence in Spain” surrounding Pedro Sanchez’s investiture as Prime Minister. The CGPJ asserts that the current president has negotiated impunity for various crimes, including corruption, with a fugitive from justice.
The agreement also raises concerns about potential investigations against judges, which would be carried out by political parties in Parliament, thereby violating the framework protecting judicial independence.
CGPJ’s Concerns: Abolishing the Rule of Law
The CGPJ, through its declaration, expresses its firm belief that the amnesty measure and the accompanying pact between the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and Junts per Catalunya signify the abolition of the rule of law in Spain.
The council warns that the approval of an amnesty law would have dire consequences for the country’s democratic institutions. This position is reinforced by the institutional statement agreed upon by the CGPJ, where they emphasize that an amnesty law would lead to the “abolition” of the rule of law in Spain.
Furthermore, the CGPJ has also sent the text approved by the Permanent Commission, where it strongly opposes the creation of parliamentary committees to investigate alleged instances of lawfare, promising to act within legally established channels.
Strong Opposition from Judicial and Fiscal Associations
The reference to “lawfare” in the agreement between the PSOE and Junts has sparked strong opposition from various judicial and fiscal associations. In a joint statement, the four most representative associations of judges, including the progressive Judges for Democracy, express their rejection of this reference and the potential consequences of incorporating the concept of lawfare into the agreement.
Similarly, the three associations of prosecutors independently release notes expressing their opposition to the inclusion of this term. Additionally, the acting president of the CGPJ convenes an urgent meeting of the Permanent Commission to discuss the text.
Wide-ranging Reactions from Judicial Bodies
The opposition to the agreement extends beyond judicial and fiscal associations. Around 80 chief judges from across Spain, including those from Barcelona, Lleida, Girona, Madrid, and the National Court, have joined the rejection expressed by all judicial associations.
In their statement, they also express their disapproval of references to lawfare or the judicialization of politics and its potential consequences. Other bodies, such as the Madrid Bar Association, have also issued similar statements.
Taking the Battle to Europe
In response to the strong opposition from the judiciary, the CGPJ has decided to escalate the issue to the European level. By sending their declarations and texts to key European figures, including the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council, the CGPJ aims to raise awareness of the threats to the rule of law, separation of powers, and judicial independence in Spain.
Additionally, the CGPJ has reached out to the President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, highlighting the serious challenges faced by the Spanish judicial system.
The battle for the rule of law in Spain intensifies as the CGPJ mobilizes against the amnesty measure and the pact between the PSOE and Junts. The judiciary’s firm stance against the potential abolition of the rule of law and the erosion of judicial independence sends a powerful message to both the Spanish government and the international community.
As the fight continues, it remains to be seen how Europe will respond to these concerns and the implications for the future of the Spanish judicial system.