European Council questions Spanish judicial independence

Catalan MonitorNews Roundup

Photo: European Council Chamber (Credit: Vilaweb)

By Staff Writers / Catalan News Agency

January 3rd, 2018

The Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe (GRECO), in a report published today, questioned the independence of the Spanish judiciary and the efforts Spain is or isn’t making in the fight against corruption.

The organization regrets that the recommendation to evaluate the legislative framework governing the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) and its effects on the real and perceived independence of this body, have not been applied in their entirety, in Spain.

The Council of Europe criticized the lack of legislative development to establish evaluation  criteria so that during the appointment processes for presidents of the provincial courts, the higher courts of justice, the Spanish Court and the Spanish Supreme Court, “no doubts can arise regarding the independence, impartiality and transparency of the process”.

Despite these warnings, the Council of Europe also highlighted in the report the “high quality of the judicial system.” The report praises, among other things, the process to develop a state justice strategy and increase the independence and efficiency of the judiciary. It cites, as an example, that a code of conduct has been adopted and a Commission of Judicial Ethics has been created with an advisory remit, although the report also goes on to point out that this commission has not yet begun operations.

The text also mentions that the political authorities “have not, in any case, participated in the election of the members of the governing body of the judiciary”. The same conclusion is made with respect to the recommendation to establish objective criteria and assessment requirements in law for the appointments to high-level positions in the judiciary.

The document reviews the compliance level of Spain in the implementation of the recommendations made four and a half years ago to prevent and combat the corruption of parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors. The GRECO denounces that this compliance is “globally unsatisfactory” because it considers that Spain has not fully implemented any of the eleven recommendations made by the organization in 2013; seven have been partially implemented and four have not been implemented .

One of the recommendations that has not been implemented in the last four years is the adoption of a code of conduct for deputies that is easily accessible and that includes, among other things, information on the prevention of conflicts of interest, gifts or financial interests. The document also explains that the recommendation to introduce norms on the way in which the members of the Spanish congress relate to lobbyists who intend to influence the legislative process has only been partially implemented.

The Council of Europe is an international organization formed by forty-seven states and headquartered in Strasbourg. Its main objective is to defend and protect democracy, the rule of law and human rights; civil and political rights in particular.

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