Thursday, February 11, 2021

Military court annuls the "exile" of a Guardia Civil union leader


Spain's Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), one of two national police forces, is militarized and performs civil policing duties under the command of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense.  In addition, in Spain, the Guardia Civil is unionized.  The Unified Association of Civil Guards (AUGC) fights for the rights of the members of its many affiliates.  A Civil Guard, who was the provincial spokesperson in Caceres, was punished by the Director General of the Civil Guard and the Ministry of Defense with removal to another province allegedly for disciplinary offenses.  The AUGC charged that the punishment against this member of the Civil Guard, whom it identified as the victim of a persecution campaign, was motivated exclusively by the fact that he was the legitimate representative of the AUGC members in Caceres.  The Civil Guard appealed to the Central Military Tribunal and the press reported on the judgment, issued on January 27, 2021,  which annulled the "exile" of this member of the Civil Guard.  

The Civil Guard member had been found guilty of failing in the performance of his duties which allegedly had prejudicial effects on the daily work of his unit.  He was to be transferred to another province ("exile") despite the fact that he had worked in Caceres for over 30 years and his wife and three children would be unable to accompany him.  Several examples of his alleged performance failure were cited, such as arriving late to shooting practice, or exhibiting a very passive attitude, or remaining seated in the interior of a car, verbal conflicts with his superiors and contradicting  their orders, or several days on which he refused to put on a bullet-proof vest.

The Minister of Defense had rejected the Civil Guard's appeal against the resolution of the Director General.  Consequently, the Civil Guard filed a writ before the Central Military Tribunal in which he alleged that the sanction should be annulled since the time period within which he was to have been notified had expired.  The Central Military Tribunal agreed with him and noted that this argument was dispositive of the case and that it was not necessary to assess his other arguments.  The Tribunal did not stop there, however, and noted that the resolution which resulted in his punishment had been based on agglomerating a series of heterogeneous events that occurred between October 10, 2017 and June 6, 2018, concluding that they constituted a failure of performance, when in fact these acts were absolutely superfluous and irrelevant for the application of any kind of disciplinary punishment. The Central Military Tribunal noted that despite the length of the 585 page file, nothing had been proven regarding the negative effect of any of these acts on the normal functioning of the Civil Guard.

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