Spain Supreme Court dismisses China human rights cases

[JURIST] Spain's Supreme Court on Monday dismissed two judicial investigations into allegations of Chinese genocide and human rights violations, due to a new law [bill text, PDF, in Spanish] limiting Spanish judges' involvement [JURIST report] in international cases. Earlier this year, Spain put an end to its use of universal jurisdiction [NYT report]. Under the new law, Spanish courts would be able to prosecute crimes against humanity committed abroad only if the suspect is a Spanish citizen, a foreigner residing in Spain or a foreigner whose extradition has been denied by Spain. The law included a clause to halt current investigations, including the arrest warrants issued [JURIST report] in February for several former Chinese leaders for their involvement in the alleged genocide in Tibet. The judges of the High Court voted 9-7 to dismiss the two open cases involving Chinese human rights abuses. The controversial plan for universal jurisdiction reform came after China expressed disapproval of the investigation and pressured the Spanish government to stop the prosecution.

Spain has assertively used universal jurisdiction in the past, creating political friction within the international community. In October a Spanish court also indicted [JURIST report] former Chinese president Hu Jintao [BBC profile] over the alleged genocide against Tibetans. In July 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that Chinese authorities used excessive force in responding to the 2008 Tibetan demonstrations [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The UN has expressed concern over the ongoing restrictions on Tibet, as well as the detention and disappearance of Tibetan monks [JURIST reports]. In March 2009 HRW reported [JURIST report] that the Chinese government has not accounted for hundreds of Tibetan protesters arrested in connection with the March 2008 remonstrations. In June 2008 the Chinese government released more than 1,000 demonstrators [JURIST report] after pressure from Amnesty International [advocacy website] to release detainees who engaged in peaceful protest [JURIST report].

 

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