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Spain judges strike to protest workload

[JURIST] Judges from more than 30 Spanish provinces went on a one-day strike Wednesday to demand that the country's judicial system hire more judges and adopt electronic technology to decrease the workload faced by current judges. The judges were led by 21 local judges' assemblies and the Francisco de Vitoria Association (AJFV) and Independent Judicial Forum (FJI) [advocacy websites, in Spanish], and argued that understaffing and the judiciary's current, primarily paper-based, recording system have created excessive workloads [El Pais report, in Spanish] for the Spain's estimated 4500 judges. In response to the strike, Spanish Minister of Justice Mariano Fernandez Bermejo [official profile, in Spanish] offered to discuss the issue with the groups, but also said that he intends to propose a law to limit the ways in which they may assert their rights given their role in government. The judges have said they plan to challenge any such law.

Earlier this month, Spain's General Board of the Judiciary (CGPJ) [official website, in Spanish], issued an official statement [text, PDF, in Spanish] responding to the organizations' plan to strike [press release, in Spanish].  The CGPJ said that it would not recognize the strike because Articles 3 and 4 of the Royal Decree Law 17/1977 [text, in Spanish] do not give the judges a legal right to go on strike. The Spanish judges' initiative, known as the October 8 Movement [El Mundo report, in Spanish; AJFV materials, in Spanish], was sparked by the fine a Huelva judge incurred in October 2008 [EcoDiario report, in Spanish] for delay in issuing an arrest order for a suspect who later killed a small child.

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