A Really, Really Bad Idea

A Really, Really Bad Idea

The New York Times is reporting that Moreno-Ocampo has offered Spain’s Judge Garzon a temporary position as one of his advisors:

Spain’s well-known investigating magistrate, Baltasar Garzón who is being prosecuted in a case filed by far-right Spanish groups, has been offered a temporary post as an external adviser to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, a court official there said. The judge gained an international reputation as a fearless prosecutor of cases including those on Basque and Islamist terrorism, drug traffickers and the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Mr. Garzón was indicted last month on charges of abusing his powers. He has denied the charges.

The appointment is a horrible idea, and a great disappointment after Moreno-Ocampo’s excellent appointments of Jose Alvarez and my colleague Tim McCormack.  The charges against Garzon are transparently political, and I have no doubt that he has a wealth of knowledge and skills that, in theory, could be useful to the OTP.  But the charges are still pending and there is no denying that Garzon is a polarizing figure, so this hardly seems the most opportune time to appoint him.  Besides, the Editors of the Wall Street Journal already have a difficult enough time piecing together the various sentences in the Rome Statute that deal with jurisdiction; now they will be even more confused.

Critics always accuse Moreno-Ocampo of being too political.  If that’s the case, he’s a remarkably bad politician.

UPDATE: Dov Jacobs has similar thoughts at his excellent — if oddly named — blog, Spreading the Jam.

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International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law, Organizations
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Dov Jacobs

I think it’s not a good idea for the ICC to take sides in the judicial proceedings taking place in Spain. As I point out in my post, I’m really surprised at how easily dismissive every commentator is of the Spanish judicial system. I must have missed the part where it became a totalitarian dictatorship… we are talking of the same system that allowed Garzon to develop his progressive practice of universal jurisdiction in the first place, right? It might have some faults, as all our systems have, but let’s at least give it the benefit of the doubt!