Spain’s parliament has approved a law that will limit the ability of its judges to go after alleged human rights abusers around the world.
Until now Spain has pioneered the use of ‘universal jurisdiction’ to pursue international crimes of genocide and torture.
Now they will only be able to prosecute wrongdoers who reside in Spain.
The law change comes just as the country’s national court issued arrest warrants for former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and four others as part of a probe into alleged genocide in Tibet.
An angry China which denies committing crimes when it took control of Tibet in 1950, demanded the Spanish government deal with the issue or risk souring relations between Beijing and Madrid.
Tibet activists in Spain who began campaigning decades ago now face having the case thrown out under the new law.
“The Chinese government is putting lots of pressure on the Spanish government . The Chinese government is trying to rule the Spanish government and is trying to force it to change laws and the Spanish government is listening to them,” said Thubten Wangchen, Director of the House of Tibet Foundation.
Spain’s ruling Popular Party claims the universal justice principal promised a lot but only caused diplomatic conflicts. Human rights lawyers say the new law will pull the plug on a host of other cases including one involving alleged rights abuses by the US in Guantanamo prison.