Conflict & Justice

Spanish human rights lawsuit against China

Tibetan exiles and their supporters have been pressuring Spanish courts to take the case since the March crackdowns in Tibet. This Spanish judge gave the green light just as the Beijing Games began. The Spanish Foreign Minister went straight to a meeting with his Chinese counterpart after landing for the beginning of the Games. Chinese officials have been tight lipped about the case but did express surprise that the Spanish judge waited until after the spring and early summer to take up the case now. in the last decade, Spain has used the notion of �universal jurisdiction� to go after other leaders they believe are guilty of crimes against humanity, even when no Spaniards have been involved. The doctrine allows national courts to pursue charges against individuals from anywhere for charges such as torture. The charge was even used against Pinochet. This legal expert says there's virtually no chance China will extradite its officials to Spain, but he says courts around the world are turning more often to universal jurisdiction so there's a sure bet China will be following the developments closely. U.S. leaders have come under the shadow of universal jurisdiction in recent years, and judges in several countries have tried to detain Kissinger for his role in the Vietnam War. former U.S. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has faced similar allegations. The message is clear: former political leaders run the risk of being detained under universal jurisdiction while traveling overseas.

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