SPANISH MPs have voted to curb the power of judges to pursue foreign human rights cases, in what Amnesty International has referred to as a ‘step backwards’.

The doctrine of universal jurisdiction can now only be applied in certain cases, such as those that involve Spanish citizens.

The amendment was passed by 180 votes to 137 in the parliament in Madrid, where Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s party has an overall majority.

MP Irene Lozano, of the Progress and Democracy Union, said that the Popular Party was giving in to Chinese pressure, after Beijing opposed arrest warrants made by a Spanish judge earlier this month.

Alfonso Alonso, spokesman for the Popular Party, said the vote would limit what he called ‘useless disputes that only generate diplomatic conflicts’.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups said the move was a ‘step backwards in the fight against impunity for crimes under international law, for justice and human rights’.

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