Baltasar Garzón v Spain

Forum: European Court of Human Rights
INTERIGHTS' role: Representatives
Keywords: Judicial independence, rule of law

Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón brings case to Europe challenging prosecution in Spain for authorising probe into Franco-era crimes

Criminal Trial

The criminal trial of Judge Baltasar Garzón, for authorising an investigation into the crimes of Spain's Franco-era, began in Madrid on 24 January 2012. The prosecution of Judge Garzón violates the state's international obligations, and gave rise to a case presented on his behalf by INTERIGHTS to the European Court of Human Rights in March 2011. See INTERIGHTS' press statement of 23 January 2012.

European Court of Human Rights Case

On 24 March 2011 Judge Garzón brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights challenging the lawfulness of his criminal prosecution in Spain, following a request by families and representatives of victims of the regime. The case presented by INTERIGHTS argues that this prosecution of a judge for his interpretations of the law is a violation of several of Judge Garzon's rights under the Convention, and that it infringes the cardinal principle of judicial independence that underpins human rights protection and the rule of law.

Click here to read the full application to the European Court of Human Rights. Judge Garzón's application was supported by several expert witness statements submitted by high level judges, practitioners and professors of law. The Expert Opinion on International Standards Relating to the Duty to Investigate, and the Impermissibility of Amnesty of Prescription, in relation to Crimes Against Humanity makes clear that the decisions for which Judge Garzón is being prosecuted were constistent with international legal obligations and practice of other courts nationally and internationally. The Expert Opinion on International Legal Standards Regarding Judicial Independence sets out international standards that militate against the prosecution of judges for their interpretations of the law. An Expert Opinion on the Crime of Judicial Prevaricación (malfesance) in Spanish Law clarifies how the prosecution of Judge Garzón is also at odds with established Spanish standards and practice. 

Read the press release and a background document which gives details about the European Court of Human Rights case; the case history, including Judge Garzón’s judicial decisions, the investigation of Judge Garzón, his suspension as a result of the case and the trial phase of the criminal case against him; Franco era crimes: amnesty and investigation; the law of ‘prevaricación’ (malfeasance) in Spain; the international context and Judge Garzón’s judicial career to date.

Información en español:

Información general sobre la demanda de Baltasar Garzón contra España presentada ante el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos: resumen de la demanda interpuesta ante el Tribunal Europeo de Dereechos Humanos; historia del caso; crimenes del franquismo: amnistía y investigación; el delito de "prevaricación" en la legislación española; el contexto internacional y la carrera del juez Garzón hasta el día de hoy.

Comunicado de prensa sobre la demanda de Baltasar Garzón contra España presentada ante el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos

Para informacion actualizado sobre los casos contra el Juez Garzon, vease el sitio web del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Justicia Internacional y Derechos Humanos - una iniciativa independiente conformada por juristas especializados en derecho internacional, justicia transicional y derechos humanos

INTERIGHTS contact: Helen Duffy, Special Counsel.