Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bossano warns of sell-out to Spain on Application of conventions

GSLP/Libs has declared that it is “not acceptable” that London and Madrid are going to negotiate the text of a declaration on the way in which European conventions on corruption will apply to Gibraltar. In a statement to the Chronicle yesterday, Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano said there should be “no negotiations with foreign countries on the manner of their application.”

Mr Bossano points out that Gibraltar is a separate legal jurisdiction to UK and said any dealings should be done through direct communication with local competent authorities. “Anything less would be a climb-down and a sell-out to Spain,” he argues.

A GSLP/Lib spokesman said:

“It would be totally unacceptable that international Criminal and Civil Law Conventions on corruption be extended to Gibraltar without the recognition of the relevant Gibraltar authorities. This follows reports that the Spanish Government is now set to sign both these Conventions on the basis that Gibraltar will not be accorded such a status.”

The Civil and Criminal Law Conventions on corruption are two separate Council of Europe international agreements. The Council of Europe is not the EU, it is a larger pan-European organisation. UK signed the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption in 1999. It was ratified in 2003 and came into force last year. The Civil equivalent was signed by UK in June 2000.

The GSLP/Lib spokesman continued:

“According to the latest information from the Council, it has still not been ratified nor is it in force in UK. It is the practice for UK to extend international Conventions to Gibraltar provided that this has the consent of the Gibraltar Government.

Spain has consistently refused to sign both these international Conventions on the basis that UK may extend these to Gibraltar. The concern in Madrid is that Gibraltar will then participate under the terms of the Convention with our own constitutional instruments and authorities. The latest reports from Spain indicate that the Spanish Government view is that since UK is the Member State signatory to the Convention, then it is UK authorities that have to give effect to the Convention in Gibraltar.

The Spanish argument is completely absurd. Madrid does not seem to understand that Gibraltar is a separate legal jurisdiction to UK. Moreover, for UK to exercise competent authority functions in Gibraltar through her own constitutional instruments would be a breach of the Constitution of Gibraltar. It is relevant to note that in a declaration to the ratification by UK on 9 December 2003, London has listed two competent authorities in this matter.

The first is the Home Office for England, Wales and N Ireland, and the second is the Crown Office for Scotland. Spain should have no objection to the addition of Gibraltar as we too are a separate legal jurisdiction.

Spain cannot be allowed to get away with it again.

It is not acceptable that London and Madrid are going to negotiate the text of a declaration on the way in which this convention will apply to us. Gibraltar should be treated in the same way as any other British Overseas Territory or Crown Dependency would be treated were these conventions to be applicable and extended to them. There should be no negotiations with foreign countries on the manner of their application and this should be done with the recognition of our constitutional instruments through direct communication with our competent authorities as happens between everyone else. Anything less would be a climb-down and a sell-out to Spain.”

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