Annual Report: Spain 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Spain 2010

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  • No date was set for the trial of the two police officers charged with killing Osamuyia Akpitaye while he was being forcibly deported from Spain in June 2007.
  • In June a video was published on the internet showing the degrading treatment of a Senegalese man during an attempt to forcibly deport him from Spain. The footage showed him lying on his stomach on the tarmac at Madrid airport, his arms and legs tied together behind his back and apparently being gagged by plain-clothes police officers. The officers then picked him up off the ground, still tied up, and put him into the back of a police van after the pilot refused to allow him to board in these conditions.
  • In June, three police officers accused of ill-treating a detainee at Les Corts autonomous Catalan police station in Barcelona in March 2007 were convicted of assault and sentenced to a €600 fine. A fourth officer was acquitted. Concealed camera footage showed the officers kicking and beating the detainee.

Migrants' rights, refugees and asylum-seekers

Migrants and asylum-seekers continued to risk their lives attempting to reach Spain along dangerous land and sea routes, although official figures showed a 45 per cent decrease in arrivals by boat compared to the previous year. Spain continued to have one of the lowest asylum recognition rates in the EU.

In February, police trade unions reported that officers at the Vallecas police station in Madrid had received orders to arrest a specified monthly quota of irregular migrants; similar instructions were reported by police in other parts of the country. The Minister of the Interior publicly denied that such a policy existed. NGOs across Spain reported an increase in racially motivated identity checks by police over the course of the year; this was believed to be as a result of migration control measures.

In October, Spain ratified Protocol 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits collective expulsion of foreign nationals.

The reform of the asylum law, adopted in October, broadens the grounds for granting refugee status or subsidiary protection to include individuals persecuted on the grounds of gender or sexual orientation. However, it also excludes EU citizens from seeking asylum, eliminates the possibility of claiming asylum in Spanish embassies abroad, and increases the grounds for excluding an individual from refugee status on the basis of undefined, vague criteria such as "constituting a danger to national security".

The Law on Foreigners was amended in October. The amendments grant NGOs access to migration detention centres, but increase the maximum period of detention of irregular migrants from 40 to 60 days.

Counter-terror and security

The authorities continued to hold in incommunicado detention people suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activities, despite repeated calls from international human rights bodies for this practice to be abolished. Under current legislation, detainees held incommunicado have severely restricted access to legal representation and are at increased risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

In its concluding observations of 19 November, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) reiterated its concern that Spain's incommunicado detention regime for cases involving terrorism or armed groups weakened necessary legal safeguards against acts of torture or ill-treatment. The CAT called upon Spain to amend the incommunicado regime with a view to abolishing it.