-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
We have previously discussed the Obama administration’s attempt to derail a Spanish judicial investigation into torture, here. Spanish law recognizes the principle of universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction (UJ) is a doctrine of international law that holds that certain crimes are so terrible that the duty to prosecute them transcends all borders.
On November 4, 2009, the Spanish government enacted a bill that would limit the reach of its universal jurisdiction law. The bill would limit jurisdiction to only those cases where (i) the alleged perpetrators are present in Spain, (ii) the victims are of Spanish nationality, or (iii) there is some relevant link to Spanish interests.
Recent events in Spain haven’t been working out for the Obama administration.
Late last month the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) has done what surely will bring hope to those who believe that no one is above the law. It has rejected a Spanish prosecutor’s effort to stop the investigation and agreed to continue investigating allegations that Lahcen Ikassrien, a Moroccan-born Spanish resident, was tortured at Guantánamo where he was held from 2002 to 2005.
This will be the first real investigation of the U.S. torture program. The investigation will be overseen by Judge Pablo Ruz. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commanding officer at Guantánamo, has been implicated in a dossier submitted to the court. It is believed that there is sufficient evidence for the court to issue a subpoena for Miller to testify before Judge Ruz. Miller would certainly refuse to testify, then Judge Ruz could issue an arrest warrant and start extradition proceedings.
The Obama administration’s refusal to investigate Bush administration officials has stained the U.S. justice system. The fact that the Spanish National Court is doing what should have been done by an American court is a national disgrace.