Annual Report: Spain 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Spain 2013

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  • In April, two police officers charged with killing Osamuyia Akpitaye while he was being forcibly deported in June 2007 were convicted of the minor offence of negligence by a criminal court. No prison sentence was imposed.
  • In May, the UN Committee against Torture found that Spain had failed to adequately investigate allegations of torture in the case Orkatz Gallastegi v. Spain. Orkatz Gallastegi was convicted in 2005 on the basis of self-incriminating evidence allegedly extracted under duress while in incommunicado detention in 2002.
  • In July, the Constitutional Court declined to review the 2011 Supreme Court acquittal of four civil guards following their conviction in December 2010 by Guipúzcoa Criminal Court for torturing Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola on 6 January 2008, while they were in police custody.

Counter-terror and security

Investigations of crimes committed by members of the armed group ETA continued.

Spain again failed to implement international human rights bodies' recommendations to abolish the use of incommunicado detention for people suspected of terrorism-related offences. The practice allows detainees to be held for up to 13 days, during which time they are denied access to a doctor or lawyer of their choice, cannot consult their state-appointed lawyer in private and cannot have their family informed of their whereabouts.

  • In December, the Spanish Supreme Court rejected an appeal from lawyers in the “Bush Six” case to prosecute in Spain six individuals alleged to be complicit in creating the legal framework that resulted in the torture of suspected terrorists at US-run detention facilities after the case had not progressed in US courts. Despite evidence to the contrary, the Court ruled that the USA was conducting investigations. The decision was expected to be appealed to the Constitutional Court.

Racism and discrimination

Muslims and other religious minorities continued to face obstacles in obtaining permits to open places of worship in some municipalities in Catalonia, following local moratoriums on new places of worship. Some local authorities, political parties and associations of neighbours continued to voice opposition to the establishment of Muslim prayer rooms.

Restrictions on wearing religious symbols and dress were maintained in some schools and continued to have a disproportionate impact on Muslim pupils.

  • On 25 January, a court in Madrid upheld the decision of a state-funded secondary school in Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid, to exclude a pupil from regular classes because she wore a headscarf.
  • On 21 May, the Head of Police issued a circular prohibiting the use of quotas and police raids for detaining foreign nationals with an irregular status. However, the measure failed to prohibit identity checks based on racial or ethnic characteristics. Local NGOs continued to report that police were targeting people from ethnic minorities when conducting such checks.
  • In July, the European Court of Humans Rights found that Spain had failed to conduct an effective investigation into allegations of police ill-treatment, and potential racist bias, in the case of a Nigerian, Beauty Solomon. She had reported being verbally abused and beaten by police officers in Palma de Mallorca in July 2005.

Violence against women

During 2012, 46 women were killed by their partners or former partners, according to the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality. A survey carried out by the Spanish government estimated that more than 2 million women had suffered gender violence by partners or ex-partners at least once. Seven years after the introduction of the law against gender-based violence, women continued to lack access to effective remedies. Since 2005, when specialized tribunals on violence against women were set up, no assessment has been made of the obstacles to effective protection that women may face during judicial proceedings.