Spain has a Problem with its Judiciary

According to the EU Justice Scoreboard of 2019 Spain is among the four EU countries with the worst perception about judicial independence among its citizens. The survey shows a trend that isn’t stopping: the perception about partiality of the judiciary is growing dangerously in the Spanish society. Causes are to be found in three elements: the political situation in the country; the shortcomings in the regulations on judiciary; the behavior of the judges themselves.

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The Junqueras Saga Continues

Notwithstanding the clear message from the ECJ, the Spanish Supreme Court has decided that the Catalan separatist leader and MEP Oriol Junqueras will not be released from prison. The contradiction between the logic of the ECJ’s judgment of December 2019 and the decision of the Spanish Supreme Court of 8 January 2020 forms a new challenge for the EU legal order, in the sense that it puts the relationship between EU law and Spanish national law under strain.

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A Matter of Representative Democracy in the European Union

With its judgment in the Junqueras case, the Court adopted a functional approach to the election procedure of the European Parliament, proceeding from the principle of representative democracy as one of the core values in the EU legal order. In particular, the Court stressed the need to ensure that the composition of the European Parliament fully reflects the free choice of the Union’s citizens, by direct universal suffrage.

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The Criminal Conviction of Catalan Secessionist Leaders and European Human Rights Law

In the controversial judgement of the Spanish Supreme Court against the Catalan secessionist leaders, seven defendants were found guilty of the crime of sedition (amongst others) and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 9 to 13 years. An appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is likely but it is doubtful whether it will be successful.

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Constitutional Conflicts

Can the actions perpetrated by the leaders of the secessionist movement be understood to be crimes under Spanish law? Does the Spanish Constitution or international law protect those actions in the name of fundamental rights, including the right to protest? The Spanish Supreme Court deals with these issues in its lengthy opinion. A reply to José Luis Martí’s assessment of that decision.

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An Exotic Right

The Spanish Supreme Court’s ruling in the trial against Catalan secessionist leaders will definitely not help to solve the conflict. Quite on the contrary, it will make it intractable in the short run, as we are beginning to see in the riots in the streets of Barcelona. In my opinion, this ruling is unjust and legally wrong. Even worse, it is unconstitutional since it compromises the fundamental democratic rights of protest – the freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly, and the right to demonstrate.

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Spanish Jurisdiction at Stake: Puigdemont’s Judge to be Judged by a Belgian Court?

Tomorrow, a new weird chapter opens up in the „affair Puigdemont“: The Spanish Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena, who unsuccessfully issued the European Arrest Warrant against former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont, is cited before a Belgian court. He is object of a civil lawsuit filed by Puigdemont who accuses the magistrate of a lack of impartiality and violating the presumption of innocence as well as his right to reputation. What is the most astonishing about this lawsuit is the fact that it is a Belgian court which shall judge the professional actions of a Spanish judge.

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Ethnocentric Mambo in Catalonia

Catalonia is a fragile object. As in many other places, history has assembled fragments without completely fusing them, leaving behind scars that remind us of the effort required to join what is diverse. These scars demand special attention because, contrary to societies where the wounds that produced them are old and almost forgotten, in Catalonia many of the wounds were still suppurating just a few decades ago. As they do now. For months, we have been at risk of tearing them open.

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