Spain drops law allowing prosecution of worldwide rights violations

March 1, 2014 at 2:01 PM
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MADRID, March 1 (UPI) -- The Spanish Parliament has adopted a new law that bars prosecutions for human rights violations abroad unless Spanish citizens are involved.

The government pushed for the scrapping of "universal jurisdiction," which allowed Spain to mount high-profile prosecutions like those of the late Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the late military ruler of Chile, ThinkSpain reported. While Pinochet and others were tried in absentia and received lengthy sentences in Spain, officials pointed out the prosecutions have little practical effect.

Alfonso Alfaro, a spokesman for the governing PP party, said the prosecutions can also cause major diplomatic problems. China, one of Spain's biggest trading partners, was angered by the prosecution of two former leaders for allegedly ordering massacres in Tibet.

Any prosecutions under universal jurisdiction that are currently underway will be dropped immediately, officials said.

Spain adopted its universal justice law in 1985 after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco.

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