‘It’s irresponsible’: Why Spain’s judges oppose govt’s handling of end of the state of alarm
With Spain’s state of alarm set to end in a matter of days, legal associations and judges have criticised the latest legislation by the national government for ‘passing the buck’ to them in terms of deciding Covid restrictions across the country from then on.
Opposition to the central government’s stance regarding the end of Spain’s estado de alarma is growing, this time among the country’s judges.
The Spanish government approved on Tuesday a Royal Decree that gives Spain’s Supreme Court the final word on what measures limiting fundamental rights can be kept or adapted by the regions after May 9th.
The aim of this is to avoid possible judicial disagreements between Spain’s 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities.
Spain’s two main associations of judges consider that the Spanish government has acted “irresponsibly” and not legislated correctly by just ‘passing the buck’ to them.
“The national government is evading its responsibilities, which is to legislate through parliament,” María José del Barco, spokesperson for Spain’s Professional Association of the Magistracy (APM), told 20 minutos.
“It should have given the regions enough legal powers,” she explained, recalling that Spain’s first deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo promised in 2020 to lay the legal foundations so that the state of alarm was not the only instrument with which to delegate during the pandemic.
“Getting out of the state of alarm means giving ourselves important tools to be able to navigate any difficult situation that the pandemic causes us,” Calvo said back in May 13th, 2020.
She has since gone back on her previous statement and supported her government’s latest decree, arguing that “in 99 percent of cases the courts have agreed with the region’s decisions, except for in some rare cases”.
This may not be entirely true, however. For example, when Spain’s first state of alarm was lifted during the summer of 2020, the Basque government tried to limit gatherings to six people but the regional court rejected the measure. In neighbouring Navarre, a judge allowed for the restriction to come into force.
The president of Spain’s Supreme Administrative Court César Tolosa told the Spanish news agency EFE that there is a “significant deficit” that exists in Spain’s emergency health legislation.
“The judges are not here to govern,” Tolosa stated, adding that having jueces (judges) rule on which Covid restrictions are appropriate before their implementation is “not the best system”.
Published The Local 06 May 20210