Lecture

Baltasar Garzón Real

The Right to Universal Justice against National Impunity

Lecture by the examining magistrate
Introduced by Manfred Lahnstein

Baltasar Garzón Real

Baltasar Garzón Real

  • In Spanish, simultaneous translation: Kristina Lange and Lilian-Astrid Geese

Past Dates

Baltasar Garzón Real, examining magistrate in Spain’s Central Criminal Court, wins respect for international human rights. The “superjudge” (New York Times) put former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet behind bars in 1998. Because under Spanish law crimes against humanity can be prosecuted worldwide with no time limit. Garzón’s “jurisdiction without borders” is directed equally at the Colombian cocaine mafia with its satellites in Galicia and the state’s illegal anti-Eta commandos, Argentinian, Chilean and Guatemalan generals accused of torture, accomplices of Osama Bin Laden who have gone to ground in Spain and Italian premier Berlusconi: “The time is ripe to align the fundamentals of territorial sovereignty, human rights, security and collaborative development with universal jurisdiction of the courts.” Garzón has a reputation for fearlessness and courage in dealing with tyrants and mass murderers, as being tough and ambitious, a “world judge” and “conscience of the world”. The Pinochet case, a milestone for “universal jurisdiction”, made him a star. Yet when Garzón investigated the crimes of Franco’s dictatorship, he was indicted before the Supreme Court in Madrid on charges of prevarication and exceeding his authority. In May 2010 he was suspended as a judge for abusing his authority. Garzón was born in Andalucía in 1955, has written many books and is an honorary doctor of more than twenty universities. In 2009 this staunch defender of human rights was presented with the Hermann Kesten Award by the German PEN Centre.