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Spain Steps Back from Universal Jurisdiction

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Spanish National Criminal Court (Audiencia Nacional) said on Tuesday it was scrapping an investigation into a 2002 Israeli Air Force bombing in Gaza that killed a suspected Hamas militant and 14 civilians. The move comes just days after the lower house of the Spanish Parliament voted to limit the scope of a 1985 law that allows judges to investigate crimes against humanity anywhere in the world.

Taken together, the developments mark a significant setback for advocates of universal jurisdiction, a legal concept whereby states can claim criminal jurisdiction over persons whose alleged crimes were committed outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting country. ...

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