Monday, April 14, 2014

UN criticizes the Kingdom of Spain for not prosecuting the crimes perpetrated during Franco’s regime


The UN Rapporteur Mr. Pablo de Greiff has reproached the State for not investigating or prosecuting the serious crimes perpetrated during the Civil War and the Dictatorship and regretted the “huge gap” betweenthe Spanish authorities and the victims of Francoism

After a ten-day visit to Spain, the Rapporteur for the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of non-repetition, disclosed his preliminary conclusions with a series of recommendations to the Government, including invalidating the Law of Amnesty of 1977 and providing access to Justice to all the victims. 


In a press conference, De Greiff, endorsed the recommendations of the Committee against Torture and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances of the UN, specifically in terms of Justice, which is where the “biggest deficits” are observed. 

Therefore, he asked the Spanish State to suspend the Amnesty Law of 1977 and to make it possible for all the victims of Francoism to access the judiciary by bringing the Spanish laws in line with international standards. 

In Spain it has been argued that “this law is not a full stop act”, although at the end “it has accomplished the function of a full stop act because it has been used to close virtually all the cases brought before the magistrates” . 

De Greiff reminded that countries in which amnesty laws have not been suspended, the courts have found a way to interpret the rules “in such a way that the prosecution of alleged responsible parties has not been obstructed”. 

The United Nations Representative claimed that “it is particularly perplexing” that the State should have not done more for the rights of the victims because “it is not about partisan politics or about redeeming certain political agendas, but about rights that concern everyone”. 

In his opinion this explains the “huge gap” between the State institutions and the victims of Francoism, this being the biggest he has ever observed along his professional career. 

In his report, the Rapporteur urged the Spanish courts to cooperate with the open legal proceedings outside Spain with reference to the open lawsuit in Argentina by more than one hundred associations of victims from the Francoism. 

On this regard he criticized the proceedings by the “Audiencia Nacional” and the “Fiscalía del Estado” for being “apparently aimed” to prevent that the Constitutional Court rules on the Amnesty Law and the prescription of “human rights violations which are so serious” which –he added– “might constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity”.


Pablo de Greiff (EFE)

He mentioned that this is the case regarding the position taken by the “Fiscalía de la Audiencia Nacional” to dismiss the petition for extradition of the two alleged Francoists torturers José Antonio González Pacheco, nicknamed “Billy the kid”, and Jesús Muñecas Aguilar. 

The Rapporteur also expressed his “concern” over the draft law by the Popular Party regarding universal justice that “would significantly restrict” the application of that principle before the Spanish courts. 

On the other hand, the Rapporteur regretted that the authorities have not actually applied a real State policy to make the truth official, “thus more resources are needed to carry out the necessary inquiries on this regard, like updating the mass-graves map which, he stated, is a matter which has barely received any financing from the State”. 

In this sprit, he recommended the strengthening of the Historical Memory Act in order to “fill the gaps” that now exist within, including the exclusion of prisoners and people arrested during the Francoist regime that were sent to labor and concentration camps. 

Moreover he referred to “the ambiguity” displayed when teaching the Civil War and the Dictatorship in schools and he requested the remodelling of El Valle de los Caídos, which is "what the victims demand and deserve”. 

The Rapporteur concludes today his official visit at the Spanish State, where he has visited Madrid, Andalusia, Catalonia and Galicia to meet Foreign Office Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, as well as several other representatives of the State, of the victims and of the civil society.

Read this article in French

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