Council of Europe denounces lack of Spanish compliance in judicial independence

Group of States Against Corruption call for improvements regarding the "appointment system" of top judiciary jobs

The Supreme Court judges during the Catalan trial (by Pool EFE)
The Supreme Court judges during the Catalan trial (by Pool EFE) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

November 13, 2019 01:14 PM

The Council of Europe has denounced Spain's lack of compliance in judicial independence, following up on an evaluation report done in 2013.

The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), the institution's anti-corruption monitoring body, calls for "an overall anti-corruption strategy and effective implementation of laws" in the country.

In their report, released on Wednesday, they praised some actions taken by Madrid, and so their grade of compliance to the body's 2013 advice is no longer "unsatisfactory."

However it states most of their recommendations of 2013 have not been fully fulfilled.

"GRECO concludes that the country has fully implemented two out of eleven recommendations. Eight recommendations have been partly implemented and only one recommendation remains not implemented," reads a summary of the report.

For instance, GRECO focuses on how Spain's top judiciary jobs are chosen, calling for "further improvements to be made regarding the appointment system of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) and top ranks of the judiciary."

Plans for ''transparent'' relationship between government and Prosecutor's Office

The Council of Europe has also demanded that president of the Spanish government Pedro Sánchez "formalizes" the publication of communications with the Prosecutor's office to ensure a transparent relationship between the Spanish Government and the Public Prosecutor's office. 

GRECO demands that the fiscal ministry act ''decisively'' to advance its ''autonomy, integrity and accountability.''

Indeed, Sánchez was involved in controversy in the build up to the November 10 election when he boasted of controlling the public prosecutor when discussing his attempts to extradite exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont from Belgium.

The Spanish Constitution states that the office should remain independent and impartial, and nor with Sánchez's previous actions.

Sánchez's actions earlier this year do not align with his comments over Puigdemont, since he told pro-independence parties that he could not tell the public prosecutor to drop the rebellion charges for the independence leaders in the Catalan Trial.

Modification of politician's prerogatives

GRECO recommends that the prerogative of politicians also be modified to prevent ''criminal action'' against members of the Spanish executive under suspicion of having committed crimes of corruption.

They warn that this applies to crimes committed in carrying out official functions as well as those related to them.