defending rights and civil liberties


Criminal Procedure Act

* Video: interview with Carlos Castresana, Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court on the impact of prosecutors possessing the monopoly on power to determine if it is “appropriate or not” to investigate (sp)

* Video: interview with Raul Maillo, lawyer, on the "people's legal action" (sp)

* RIS Legal Debate: "The change of system from investigative magistrates to prosecutors in charge of criminal investigations and the principle of opportunity" (sp)

* RIS Legal Debate. "The importance of the people's legal action for justice" (sp)

* Submissions to UN: "Joint Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Spain" (sp)

The Government’s proposed reform to the criminal procedure act strikes a mortal blow to the “people’s legal action”, a right enshrined in the Constitution.

According to the Explanatory Memorandum of the bill, the prevention of any public or private entity from engaging the people’s legal action is necessary to "prevent abuse". If we consider the Nóos case, #BlesaAlBanquillo, the Bárcenas dossiers, and many other cases of political corruption, these legal proceedings have been initiated by citizens who have exercised their right to file a people’s legal action when faced with an ineffective prosecutor. Thanks to the people’s legal action, many associations have also denounced human rights violations; for example, torture and abuse by security forces and which neither judges nor prosecutors tend to investigate or prosecute on their own initiative. The reform also prevents the filing of the people’s legal action to denounce serious crimes under international law such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or enforced disappearances. 

Furthermore, it will place the investigation phase directly under the control of the Prosecutor General’s office, which answers directly to the government. There are no plans, however, to reform the Organic Statute of the Prosecution Service, necessary if the institution is to become truly independent of the executive power. It will be up to the Prosecutors General’s office to decide, under orders, if it is appropriate or not to engage in legal action and against whom. This is the same Prosecutor General’s office which has asked for a five-year prison sentence for those who threw pies at politicians, as an act of protest, appealed a court’s ruling which closed the investigation into the public protest outside the Spanish vice-president’s home and, as matter of habit, requests the dismissal of any complaints pertaining to ill-treatment allegedly inflicted by law enforcement officials.