Castedo v Spain, UN Human Rights Committee (2002) (excerpts)

Castedo v Spain, UN Human Rights Committee Communication 1122/2002 (excerpts)

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9.5 The Committee recalls its general comment No. 32, in which it states that the impartiality
of the courts has two aspects.10 First, judges must not allow their judgement to be influenced by
personal bias or prejudice, nor harbour preconceptions about the particular case before them, nor
act in ways that improperly promote the interests of one of the parties to the detriment of the
other.11 Secondly, the tribunal must also appear to a reasonable observer to be impartial. These
two aspects refer to the subjective and objective elements of impartiality, respectively.

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9.7 It should also be determined whether, quite apart from the judge’s personal mindset, there
are ascertainable objective facts which may raise doubts as to his impartiality. Judges must not
only be impartial, they must also be seen to be impartial. When deciding whether there is a
legitimate reason to fear that a particular judge lacks impartiality, the standpoint of those
claiming that there is a reason to doubt his impartiality is significant but not decisive. What is
decisive is whether the fear can be objectively justified.


9.8 The Committee is of the view that, since the reporting judge was an employee of the
University, where he worked as an associate lecturer (one of the parties to the proceedings before
the High Court of Justice of Murcia), the author could reasonably have harboured doubts as to
the impartiality of the court. The Committee considers that, in the circumstances, the author’s
apprehensions as to the impartiality of the judge are objectively justified and it therefore cannot
be considered that there was an impartial court in the meaning of article 14, paragraph 1, of the
Covenant.