Spain's Human Rights Probes Spark Backlash
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2009 7:40 PM CDT
Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero attends a press conference on August 21, 2008 in Madrid, Spain.   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Judges in Spain are pressing human rights cases against top officials around the world, prompting threats abroad and criticisms at home, the Washington Post reports. Invoking so-called universal jurisdiction, judges are probing 16 cases, including US approval of torture and Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. But nervous Spanish lawmakers reacted by voting to limit the nation's judicial reach.

"How can a Spanish judge with limited resources determine what really happened in Tiananmen or Tibet?" one legislator asked. Caught in the middle is Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who seeks to warm frosty relations with Washington. Advocates say Spanish arrest warrants can enable other countries to nab abusers: Any democratic member of the United Nations "should be able to bring these cases," one lawyer said.