FECL 21 (December 1993/January 1994):

INTERIOR MINISTER CORCUERA STEPS BACK AFTER DECISION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

On 18 November, the Spanish Constitutional Court unanimously decided the annullation of two articles of the mal-famed "ley Corcuera", a law on "citizens' security" named after its creator, Interior Minister Josť Luis Corcuera. The Minister tendered his resignation immediately after the Constitutional Courts verdict.

The controversial provisions in the law (article 21.2 qnd 26j) empowered the police and the Guardia Civil as well as other invetsigative authorities to carry out house-searches without consent of a judge, in presence of "well-founded suspicion of a flagrant delict against the security of the State or against provisions on narcotics" (Article 21.2). Moreover, even mere infractions of internal reglementations and administrative ordinances could be punished with disciplinary penalties (Article 26j). The Constitutional Court views the first provision as a violation of the principle of constitutional right of integrity of homes and the other as an evasion of orderly legislative procedure.

In a statement published on 19 November, the government of Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales announced its "unconditional willingness" to bow to the decision and to amend the law accordingly. The government, however, made a point of the fact that "90 percent of the law" had the blessing of the constitutional judges.

Notwithstanding this fact, no less than 200 judgements based on evidence gathered through illicit house-searches will now have to be reviewed.

Only in the Basque country the controversial articles have never been applied on instruction of the local autonomous judiciary.

Alexander Gschwind, Madrid, 23.11.93