Annual Report: Spain 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Spain 2013

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KINGDOM OF SPAIN

Head of state King Juan Carlos I de Borbón

Head of government Mariano Rajoy

There were continued reports of excessive use of force by police during demonstrations. Human rights bodies condemned Spain for the lack of adequate investigations into allegations of torture.

Background

Demonstrations continued throughout the year, calling for changes in the political system to allow for greater public participation in political affairs and to protest against austerity measures implemented to combat the financial and economic crisis.

In June, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended that Spain review reforms adopted in relation to the financial crisis to ensure that all austerity measures upheld economic, social and cultural rights and were temporary, proportionate and without prejudice to those rights. The Committee also recommended taking legislative measures to ensure that economic, social and cultural rights enjoy the same protections as civil and political rights.

No violent attacks by the armed Basque group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) were reported during 2012, after the group announced the end of its armed struggle in October 2011.

In November, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that same-sex marriage was consistent with the provisions of the Spanish Constitution, following the Popular Party's 2005 appeal against legislation permitting same-sex marriage.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Demonstrations took place throughout the year in different cities including Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. There were frequent allegations of excessive use of force and of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials while dispersing crowds during the protests. In general, investigations into complaints were not thorough or effective; some were made impossible by the lack of identification tags on the uniforms of police alleged to have been involved.

  • In March, a Barcelona court closed the investigation on alleged excessive use of force by Mossos d'Esquadra police when dispersing demonstrators in Barcelona on 27 May 2011. The court found that the police action had been proportionate. However, on 29 October a higher court ordered the reopening of the case.
  • Also in March, a Madrid court issued a decision not to admit a complaint lodged in 2011 by Angela Jaramillo, as the policewoman responsible for hitting her could not be identified. Angela Jaramillo was among several people who, despite their peaceful conduct during a demonstration in Madrid on 4 August 2011, were repeatedly hit with batons by police and required medical treatment. Angela Jaramillo died in June 2012 after suffering a heart attack.
  • On 11 July, a freelance journalist, Paloma Aznar, was hit by a rubber bullet and injured on the hip while covering miners' demonstrations in Madrid. She was wearing her journalist tag with her camera round her neck. She reported that police were not wearing any visible identification and were shooting rubber bullets directly at the crowd after some demonstrators became violent. Video footage showed police using batons against people lying on the pavement and firing rubber bullets at close range.
  • On 25 September, during a demonstration in Madrid, unidentified police beat peaceful demonstrators with batons, fired rubber bullets at them, and threatened journalists covering the events – including inside Atocha train station. An internal investigation was reportedly opened on the police operation. Its results had not been made public at the end of the year.

Investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment were often inadequate and recognized as such in decisions adopted by human rights bodies and courts during the year.