The report of the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe released this Thursday not only criticizes that the law has not been reformed so that the judicial members of the General Council of the Judiciary are chosen by the judges, and not by the politicians. The GRECO also considers its recommendations on the need for greater autonomy of the Prosecutor’s Office vis-à-vis the Government to be unfulfilled and specifically criticizes the revolving doors, that is, the passage from politics to the Public Ministry without a solution of continuity. This is the case of the current attorney general, Dolores Delgado, former Minister of Justice and deputy of the PSOE.
The Council of Europe body that assesses the capacity of member states to fight corruption asks Spain to “bear in mind” the considerations made in its previous reports on corruption. revolving doors of the judges and apply them to the prosecutors.
Since 2014, GRECO has been demanding the elimination of the legal option for judges who have entered politics to return to judicial activity. He bases his recommendation on the “necessary independence and impartiality of the judges, both in reality and in appearances, especially if one takes into account the public concern about the risks of politicization“.
GRECO now transfers these reflections to the case of prosecutors “in particular with regard to political activity,” it indicates in its latest report, and suggests that this matter be reflected upon in the face of the announced reform of the Organic Statute of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. .
GRECO had made three recommendations on the Public Ministry: reconsider the selection method and mandate of the attorney general; establish clear legal requirements and procedures to increase the transparency of communication between the attorney general and the government, and study ways to give greater autonomy to the management of the Public Prosecutor’s media.
Relationship with the Government
The compliance report known this Thursday confirms that there has been no modification of the procedure for electing the attorney general, “a long-standing concern that clouds the perception of the autonomy of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Spain.”
“Nor has there been any news reported in relation to the specific aspects of external autonomy, the implementation of which is still pending,” he adds.
In this regard, it recalls that the Organic Statute of the Public Prosecutor’s Office provides for the possibility of the Government being informed by the attorney general about specific cases that are being processed.
“Although the law determines that all communication between the Executive Power and the Public Prosecutor’s Office must take place between the Minister of Justice and the attorney general, it does not require that such communication be made public or recorded in writing,” he says. “Given the The relationship between the attorney general and the Executive is an issue that continues to be
criticized public in Spain, in terms of the perception of its independence, the transparency of communication between it and the Government is key, “he says.
Regarding the third recommendation, GRECO “reiterates its doubts about the fact that the Ministry of Justice decides on the allocation of personnel in the different Prosecutor’s Offices, including the one specialized in the fight against corruption and organized crime, since management autonomy is an important guarantee of the independence and efficiency of the Public Prosecutor’s Office “.
The report refers to the planned reform of the Criminal Procedure Law, which aims to assign the prosecutors the direction of the criminal investigation, and states that “the need to ensuring non-interference from external pressures takes on even more importance primordial”.
“Regardless of the instructional model,” he adds, “it is crucial to public confidence, and also to peer confidence, that instruction is, and appears, impartial, objective, and free from any undue influence, especially of a political nature, in the performance of their duties “.
“For this reason, GRECO can only reiterate the need for further reflection on the additional guarantees that can be introduced in the Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office to protect it from undue interference,” it concludes.
New disciplinary regime
The report does consider the recommendation on the approval of a code of ethics for prosecutors to be fulfilled, but not the recommendation that a new specific disciplinary regime be established in the Public Prosecutor’s Office “that is invested with the appropriate guarantees
of fairness and effectiveness, and subject to an independent and impartial review “.
“The disciplinary regime for prosecutors requires a thorough review “According to the report, in which GRECO “regrets that the plans to reform the regulatory framework of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, while progressing, have not yet yielded tangible results.”
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