In the following text, we explain the measures which were urgently adopted by Spain’s justice institutions. Measures that were taken in the initial stages after detecting COVID-19.
- 6 February 2020 marked the beginning of the first actions aimed at establishing protocols of coordination with administrations. They were all intended establish systems of individual and collective protection for judicial personnel and within the field of justice.
- On 11 March 2020, the Council agreed on a COVID 19 Protocol – Instructions from the General Council of the Judiciary regarding the provision of the public judicial service in the face of the generated situation. This includes measures to promote teleworking, recommendations for individual protection and measures of communication and dissemination, establishing a coordination and monitoring commission. An email was activated to centralise communication on the matter.
- On 14 March, in coordination with the General State Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Justice, the establishment of minimum assistance services was agreed.
- On 18 March, measures were agreed upon to suspend procedural deadlines, to provide minimum services in courts for violence against women and on minimal services. The catching of COVID-19 by judges is considered an occupational hazard.
- On 20 March, agreements were established on matters such as custody and visits by non-custodial parents, and on the suspension of periodic appearances by persons not deprived of their freedom in criminal cases prior to prosecution.
The General State Prosecutor’s Office adopted different resolutions regarding internal operations and other decisions.
- On 10 March, instructions were issued on the suspension of proceedings, the use of telematic means, and the organisation of the Prosecutor’s Offices.
- On 13 March, an Instruction was issued regarding the resolutions adopted due to the urgent sanitary measures for public health and those which involve the deprivation or restriction of freedom.
- On 14 March, the minimum and essential services of the Prosecution Service were agreed.
- On 15 March, the limitation of the physical presence of workers in workplaces where they are not essential.
- On 16 March, it was resolved to interrupt procedural deadlines and the presence of personnel in the different units of the General State Prosecutor’s Office was reorganised.
- On 18 March, it was agreed to follow up on the health risks and deaths detected in old people’s homes. The criterion is unified by the judicial request for confirmation or revocation of any medical discharge not accepted by the patient.
- On 23 March, a “Guide for prosecutors’ actions in the event of catching coronavirus” was approved.
Ministry of Justice
The Ministry of Justice acts as a coordinator for all players.
- In its functions as the central authority for international judicial cooperation, it suspended processing deadlines.
- It also considered essential the processing of cases of pardon.
- It created a repository of resolutions related to COVID-19 of all the institutions intervening in matters of justice for the general knowledge of citizens.
- Within the framework of the COMJIB, the ministry participates in all the resolutions passed on this matter within the material and geographical framework of this institution.
Antonio Roma, prosecutor and coordinator of the component of cooperation between Justice Systems of EL PAcCTO