Annual Report: Spain 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Spain 2013

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  • María (name withheld) survived sexual, psychological and physical violence by her partner, which resulted in her not being able to walk for six months. She continued to receive serious threats throughout the four years of the judicial investigation and after the trial. Although she reported her situation to the authorities, she received no protection and was forced to leave her home. Her ex-partner was acquitted. At the end of 2012, she was still receiving serious threats and living in hiding.

Refugees and migrants

In April, the adoption of Royal Decree-Law No. 16/2012 reformed the Aliens Act, limiting irregular migrants' access to public health services.

On 4 September, Spain collectively expelled 70 migrants from the Spanish islet Isla de Tierra to Morocco. None of them had access to an individual asylum procedure.

  • In August, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found Spain responsible for the arbitrary detention, discrimination and ill-treatment amounting to torture of a Moroccan citizen detained in an immigration detention centre in Madrid. Adnam el Hadj was stopped on the street for an identity check and taken to the detention centre. There, five police officers allegedly hit him several times and made racist insults. The detention centre's medical department found multiple bruises on his body and recommended that he be taken to hospital. He was not taken to a hospital and no medical report was drawn up.

Crimes under international law

The definition of enforced disappearance as a crime against humanity in domestic legislation continued to fall short of obligations under international law, despite Spain's ratification of the International Convention against enforced disappearance.

  • On 27 February 2012, the Supreme Court acquitted former judge Baltasar Garzón of exceeding his authority. Baltasar Garzón was prosecuted, among other things, for violating the 1977 Amnesty Law by launching an investigation in 2008 into the enforced disappearances of 114,266 people between July 1936 and December 1951. Despite the acquittal, the Supreme Court concluded that Baltasar Garzón had wrongfully interpreted the law when considering the facts under investigation as crimes against humanity. According to the Court, the crimes were not defined as crimes against humanity within domestic law at the time they were committed. This judgement by the Supreme Court may rule out the possibility of investigating past crimes under international law in Spain.

Housing rights

The government implemented legislative reforms relating to the economic crisis without assessing their impact on vulnerable people's rights.

  • In Madrid, forced evictions continued to take place in Cañada Real, despite Law 2/2011 of 15 May 2011, which urged competent local authorities to consult affected residents and to strive towards reaching an agreement to avoid evictions. In the informal settlement of Puerta de Hierro, also in Madrid and inhabited by Roma, 300 people were evicted without being provided adequate alternative housing.
  • In June, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concerns about continuing evictions being implemented in breach of international legal safeguards, including on genuine prior consultation, compensation and adequate alternative housing. The Committee recommended the adoption of a legal framework setting out guidelines to be followed prior to evictions.