The panel of the Supreme Court has the option of complying with the provision of Spanish Constitution establishing that international law forms part of Spanish law (Art. 10.2 and 96), rather than persevering with a misguided move to punish a judge for applying international law standards –such as the principle that crimes against humanity cannot be subject to statutes of limitations or amnesty. In other words, the Supreme Court has the possibility of becoming the guarantor of human rights, as judges in other parts of the world have done, or of breaking with international law and standards and so destroying the possibility of access to justice for the victims of serious violations of human rights such as those that took place during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime.
Spain itself is obliged to assure conformity with international treaties to which it is a party. The State has a clear obligation to investigate unlawful killings, torture, enforced disappearances and other crimes under international law committed during the Civil War and the Franco regime.
The Council of Europe’s Guidelines on eradicating impunity for serious human rights violations establishes a guarantee that is especially important in this context. It states that safeguards should be put in place to ensure that lawyers, prosecutors and judges do not fear reprisals for exercising their functions in these types of cases.
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