European Parliament’s Tibet Intergroup

(From left to right) Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen, Special Representative of the Dalai Lama to Europe; Mr. Matteo Mecacci, ICT President; MEP Thomas Mann, President of the EP’s Tibet Intergroup; Mr. Thubten Wangchen, Tibetan Parliamentarian; Dr. José Elias Esteve, lawyer in the Tibet law suits in Spain; Mr. Alan Cantos, Director of Comité de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT).

The Spanish Socialist spokesperson Soraya Rodriguez has announced in Madrid that the opposition Socialist Party will appeal to the Constitutional Court against the recent legislative move in Spain to limit the power of the judiciary to investigate and prosecute serious crimes under international law.

The announcement was made during a meeting on Tuesday (March 4) in the Spanish Congress, in which victims including Tibetan monk Thubten Wangchen testified about the importance of the principle of universal jurisdiction. (Image and report in Spanish, El País, El PSOE recurrirá la reforma de la justicia universal ante el Constitucional).

The announcement by Spanish Socialists follows the fast-tracking by Spain’s leading Popular Party of a bill to reform Spain’s universal jurisdiction laws that would put Spain in breach of its international obligations and offer the prospect of impunity to many responsible for serious crimes. It follows two lawsuits focusing on China’s leadership for its policies in Tibet, and which has led to arrest warrants being issued by the Spanish courts for several Chinese officials. (ICT report, A ‘death blow to democracy’: Spanish lawyers challenge new ruling that may close down Tibet lawsuits after Chinese pressure).

The International Campaign for Tibet and main plaintiffs in the Tibet case, the Comité de Apoyo al Tibet, welcomed the announcement after launching an appeal in Brussels on February 21 directed at Spanish lawmakers to protect universal justice (ICT report, An appeal to protect universal justice in Spain).

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “The decision by the Spanish socialists confirms that in a democracy, checks and balances can be brought to bear on rushed and abrupt moves, such as that of the Spanish government in changing universal jurisdiction legislation under pressure from an authoritarian government.”

Alan Cantos from the Spanish Tibet Support Committee, Comité de Apoyo al Tibet, which has pioneered the cases together with author of the lawsuits Dr. José Elías Esteve Moltó, said: “This principled commitment by the Spanish Socialists in favor of judicial independence and in the spirit of justice for all is an important step in ensuring the moves to obliterate universal jurisdiction come under the scrutiny of the Constitutional Court.”