Summary of the 32nd AJFV 2017 General Assembly in Alicante
In general lines, the Assembly has been a way to make it clear that the association continues to grow and that it already has 828 members. We’re optimistic and believe we can reach 1000 members over the next two years.
The all-new website designed by elraro.com is beginning to get results as is the community manager work the company provides. Just to give you an idea, while the cost of all website and social network management services are approximately €4000 a year, the new website has led to an increase of 13,000 visits in comparison with the last three years to reach 200,000 in just 7 months since it was created. The intranet, which will offer a more direct connection between members and the National Committee, will also be up and running very soon.
Also debated was the matter of civil and criminal specialisation which the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary will, under the new law, begin implementing in the near future. Since you were sent the working document prepared by our colleague Jaime Anta, allow me to refer you to it. I believe the most important thing is to remember that the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary has the legal authority to implement specialisation as provided for by the Spanish Organic Law on the Judiciary and that the AJFV position is absolutely clear as concerns its rejection of any specialisation involving a second public examination. For more specifics, please refer to the conclusions on the matter that were approved and have been issued by the National Committee.
A decision has also been made to create an Equality Commission. We were the only association without one. All points of view must be heard on this subject and we are also in a position to join the fight for equality.
Finally, our colleagues in Madrid suggested re-opening the possibility of submitting candidates to Parliament for election to seats on the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary. The matter aroused intense debate because, we must not forget, the seat election system is a totemic element for associations and also for many colleagues and supporters. Finally and after 2 hours during which even the voting system was up for debate (in line with our association’s spirit!), the possibility of submitting candidates again ended up triumphing. The arguments in favour of this position were as follows:
- Submitting candidates does not mean we legitimise or accept the system. AJFV has been very blunt about systematically rejecting any seat election system that does not include election by and between judges and magistrates, the only interpretation that faithfully matches the text and spirit of our Constitution.
- We must not confuse the AJFV position in relation to the election system with the fact that the decision was made four years ago not to participate in the elections. The decision was made not to participate in the elections four years ago to protest Gallardón’s handling and unilateral break from the unwritten agreement reached with the associations as concerns the seat election system. Gallardón’s no longer governing. Four years ago, the National Committee decided to suspend participation but not that we would no longer submit any candidacies.
- There’s a qualitative jump between fighting from the outside and fighting with a voice and above all, ears, within the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary. In any case, we’re already a part of the system. We have presidents from the Provincial Courts, High Courts, etc. Nobody can assure us that AJFV will have seats, but we cannot reject this possibility straightaway.
Finally, Alicante 2017 will be long remembered as the assembly at which Raimundo Prado really told off Carlos Lesmes for the lack of real implication by the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary over all these years as concerns judges’ real needs. You may find the complete speech on the website. Carlos Lesmes took up the invitation and recognised that he’s already accustomed to Francisco de Vitoria welcoming him with severe criticism.
As always, we have experienced great moments of brotherhood and moments of great emotion.
With regard to retirements, we deservingly acknowledged two great jurists, wonderful people and distinguished members: Juan Saavedra Ruíz and Carlos Granados Pérez. What can be said about those who planted the seeds of the association and have been and always will be references for each and every one of us? Two giants of magistracy who must hang up their robes. I doubt they will rest much during their retirement, but I hope they enjoy themselves and don’t forget too much about us, the exercising members with much left to be done. Francisco de Vitoria will always be a synonym for Juan Saavedra and Carlos Granados; and mentioning Juan Saaveda and Carlos Granados will always mean Francisco de Vitoria as long as we maintain that unbreakable spirit that encouraged them to found the association and which is a part of our DNA today.
We must recognise our colleague Eva Atarés, who received the highest number of votes in the history of Francisco de Vitoria during the National Committee elections (385 votes). However, this mother of two and Barcelona resident, decided out of a sense of responsibility to decline the office of Spokesperson in favour of Raimundo Prado, who had received 10 votes less than she had. We mustn’t forget how Eva has had to fulfil the duty of Territorial Spokesperson throughout the Catalan crisis, a crisis which forced her into media exposure during historic terrible circumstances as Catalan judges were forced to choose between their oath of loyalty to the Constitution and being considered traitors by friends, neighbours and, in some cases, even family members. Eva has been a leader in this profession and for our association, receiving a real ovation by all those present.
Jesús Barrientos, as the President of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia, received the prize for judicial independence that AJFV granted this year to all of the Catalan judges from Eva Atarés for his unwavering commitment to the Spanish Constitution as the ultimate bastion of the State. With the auditorium standing on its feet and the Spanish Minister of Justice in attendance, the ovation was not only for Jesús but for each and every one of the 800 judges effectively serving the autonomous region.
Little more, the Spanish Minister of Justice, Rafael Catalá Polo, held steady in the executive branch’s argument that our working conditions have improved because written responses have been added to oral proceedings for small claims without even considering that Spanish judges have any specific problems. Not to mention any increase in compensation. It’s nothing new. We mustn’t expect anything to this end. Any improvement will, obviously, have to be won.
Following the elections of members to the National Committee, up for re-election were Raimundo Prado Bernabéu and José Pérez Gómez, who all held their offices. Accompanying them over the next two years will be Eva Atarés García, magistrate of the Court of First Instance No. 57 of Barcelona, Natalia Velilla Antolín, magistrate of the Court of First Instance No. 5 of Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, Antonio Viejo Llorente, Senior Judge for the Courts of Madrid, Javier Albar García, Contentious-Administrative Court No. 2 of Zaragoza, Rosa María Freire Pérez, magistrate of the Court of Preliminary Investigation No. 32 of Madrid, Jorge Riestra Sierra, magistrate of the Contentious-Administrative Court No. 4 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, as Secretary, and Carlos Viader Castro, magistrate of the Criminal Court No. 1 of Melilla, as Treasurer. It’s a very powerful committee combining experience and youth.
I shall not finish without thanking Alfonso Álvarez-Buylla Naharro, Jaime Francisco Anta González, Ana Esmeralda Casado Portilla, Ignacio De Torres Guajardo, Eduardo López Causapé, Hugo Novales Bilbao and Marcelino Sexmero Iglesias for the work over the last few years. Their work has simply been priceless.
My personal opinion is that judiciary associationism is beginning to have an impact. The AJFV has evolved immensely in recent years and we shall no longer be content with kind words and good will, which never ends up materialising into anything. Facta non verba, recalled Raimundo Prado. There’s not much more to add. Over the last year, we’ve proven our great sense of State. It is now time for our position, as the true bastion of the rule of law, guarantor of all citizens’ rights and liberties, to begin to be substantially acknowledged.
In Albacete, 19 November 2017.
Gustavo Andrés Martín Martín, Territorial Spokesperson for Castilla-La Mancha
Francisco de Vitoria Judges Association