some, Judge Baltasar Garzón of Spain's Audencia Nacional is a hero for his work
from the bench to address human rights violations. Aggressively applying the
concept of universal jurisdiction, the judge reached across the globe to bring
perpetrators to "justice" as defined by him.
laudable the judge's stated goals, his methodology often trumped the rule of
law, i.e., to Judge Garzón, the ends justified the means applied. For example, the
judge investigated alleged human rights violations committed by one side in the
Spanish Civil War despite his country's 1977 amnesty for all parties involved.
Garzón's investigations appeared to be motivated in part by his political
ideology. If the alleged perpetrators of human rights violations were
considered right wing, the judge aggressively pursued them through universal
the other hand, if the perpetrators were considered left wing, the judge turned
a blind eye to purported human rights violations, choosing to investigate the
former while ignoring the latter even if the acts in question were committed by
both sides, such as in the Spanish Civil War.
Garzón has been disbarred unanimously by his country's Supreme Court and has
lost his judgeship too. Why? To obtain evidence, Judge Garzón ordered illegal
wiretaps of conversations between prisoners and their defense counsel. For a
man who detested General Francisco Franco's regime, it's a wonder that Judge
Garzón couldn't see how illegal wiretaps were better suited for such
totalitarianism than Spain's current parliamentary constitutional monarchy.
contend that this disbarment action against Judge Garzón is a miscarriage of
justice. To the contrary, it is upholding the rule of law against a man who saw
fit to misuse judicial power.
Judge Garzón is truly committed to the protection of fundamental human rights,
there are plenty of governmental bodies and human rights NGOs where he can work
to do so. One could make the argument that he should have obtained such
employment in the first place rather than tarnish the judiciary and corrupt the
rule of law as a judge.
Famous Spain judge
convicted of misusing authority, Newsday (Feb. 9, 2012)
judge who pursued dictators, brought down by wiretapping, UK Guardian (Feb.
Acclaimed Spanish Judge Disbarred, VOA (Feb. 9, 2012)