For civil libertarians, there are few heroes who can match Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge who ordered the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998 and later worked to identify human rights violations committed during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship. He will be the first recipient of ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. I will have the honor of serving as the interviewer of Judge Garzón at the award luncheon on Saturday, May 14th, and to explore his views of contemporary civil liberties issues as well as his famous career.
The $100,000 award will be awarded annually and this is an impressive start for the new award.
Judge Garzón is a personal hero for his pursuit of justice for the victims of Pinochet. He is coming at a time when civil libertarians in this country are in deep need for moral support. We have a president who has blocked torture prosecutions by Bush officials, continued military tribunals, and expanded on a host of controversial Bush policies in the national security area.
Judge Garzón served on Spain’s central criminal court, the Audiencia Nacional and became an international figure in his pursuit of both terrorists and war criminals. His legacy includes investigations that led to the conviction of a government minister as the head of the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL), a state terrorist group. He has also pursued terrorist organizations like ETA. His most famous case led to the international warrant for the arrest of former Chilean president, General Augusto Pinochet.
Garzón himself was indicted in April 2010 for exceeding his authority when investigating crimes committed by the Franco regime that were included in a controversial amnesty. While suspended, he continued his work as a consultant at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. I am currently unfamiliar with the details of the allegations against the judge, but will likely explore the case with him in our interview.
The event will be held on Saturday, May 14th with the luncheon from 12:00 – 2:00 pm at the Kimmel Center (60 Washington Square South, New York). (Tickets: http://www.ALBA-VALB.org or 212-674-5398).
ALBA is a non-profit educational organization promoting public awareness of that war and its historical, political, artistic and biographical significance. The Puffin Foundation promotes artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations often excluded from mainstream organizations.
The first ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism will be presented on Saturday, May 14, 2011 at the Kimmel Center at 60 Washington Square South, in New York City.
Here is the press release for the event: ALBA-Press-Release-on-Event-May-14