Isabel Morillo, Seville, 10 November 2023
Sowing doubts “about the independence of the judiciary in Spain” means, according to the presidents of the Provincial Courts, “irresponsibly distancing ourselves from one of the most important requirements to be part of the European Union”.
The Spanish Chief Justices have also expressed their rejection of the agreement reached by the PSOE and Junts to facilitate the investiture, after all the Judicial Associations (Professional Association for the Judiciary, Francisco de Vitoria Judicial Association, Judges for Democracy and Independent Judicial Forum) and the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) had already done so in unison. “We expressly endorse the contents of this document. We also express our rejection of the references to ‘lawfare or judicialisation of politics’ and its consequences,” they state in the communiqué signed by judges from more than 80 judicial parties in Spain, who warn of the deep unease in the world of the judiciary about the mention demanded by Carles Puighdemont’s party in the agreement.
The gap between politics and justice continues to widen over the investiture agreement. This is despite the fact that the PSOE has tried to clarify that “there will be no review” of the sentences from the Congress of Deputies. As already expressed by the judicial associations, in exceptional agreement in the same joint communiqué, the judges now reiterate that “the text of the agreement reached contains explicit references to the possibility of developing commissions of enquiry in the parliamentary seat in order to determine the presence of situations of judicialisation of politics, with the consequences that, where appropriate, could give rise to actions of responsibility or legislative amendments”.
For the dean judges, this reference to commissions of enquiry “could mean, in practice, subjecting judicial procedures and decisions to parliamentary review, with obvious interference in judicial independence and a breach of the separation of powers”. “Judges must be subject only to the rule of law, as is expressly established in article 117.1 of the Constitution”, they recall in this statement, insisting that these “expressions, insofar as they imply any mistrust in the functioning of the judiciary, are not acceptable”. “The Judiciary in Spain is independent, does not act under political pressure and has a system of jurisdictional guarantees that averts the risk that is pointed out”, they conclude in the text sent and signed by the dean judges of up to 82 judicial districts throughout Spain.
In another communiqué, the Presidents of the Provincial Courts of Spain have also expressed their deep unease and support the pronouncement of the General Council of the Judiciary to “show their most energetic rejection of the reference made in the document agreed by the aforementioned political parties to lawfare and the judicialisation of politics”. The risk of judicial decisions being reviewed, they stress, is “a flagrant violation of the principle of the separation of powers which is the fundamental pillar of our democratic state and the rule of law”. The presidents of the Audiencias show their “surprise and indignation” at the document of the political agreement for sowing doubts “about the independence of the judiciary in Spain”, “which means irresponsibly distancing ourselves from one of the most important requirements to be part of the European Union”, they warn.
After the harsh criticism from all the judicial associations and the CGPJ, the PSOE wanted to clarify that the agreement with Junts does not foresee the creation of investigation commissions with the aim of “detecting cases of ‘lawfare'”, but refers to the commissions already agreed in August with the Catalan pro-independence supporters in their pact for the Congressional Bureau. “Parliament is not going to carry out, in any case, a review of any judicial sentence or resolution”, they insisted, although the judiciary assures that the text of the agreement does not offer any doubts. Socialist sources clarified that the commissions of enquiry mentioned in the agreement are “the reactivation of the commission on the so-called Operation Catalonia”, referring to the use of public resources to investigate and “harm” political rivals, as well as a commission on espionage via Pegasus. These are the two commissions that the PSOE agreed with ERC and Junts for the election of the Congress Bureau on 17 August, which gave the Presidency of the Chamber to the Socialist Francina Armengol.