Spain: Out of the shadows - Time to end incommunicado detention

Report
September 15, 2009

Spain: Out of the shadows - Time to end incommunicado detention

Amnesty International calls on parliament to abrogate the existing legislation permitting incommunicado detention and to ensure the effective protection of the rights of all persons deprived of their liberty, in accordance with international human rights standards.


Amnesty International recommends that the Spanish Minister of Justice should:

  • End the use of incommunicado detention by immediately abrogating Articles 509, 520bis and 527 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which authorise and govern the use of incommunicado detention; and subsequently:

  • Ensure all persons deprived of their liberty enjoy the right to consult with a lawyer of their own choice in private, and to have a lawyer present during questioning and the making of statements, from the outset of detention and throughout the period in custody;

  • Ensure all detainees enjoy the right to medical examinations by a doctor of their own choice if so requested;

  • Ensure all detainees are able to exercise their right to notify a relative or other person of their choice or have the person notified of the fact and place of their detention without delay.


Amnesty International recommends that the Ministry of Interior, and autonomous Counsellors of Interior as appropriate, should:


Ensure video- and audio-recording equipment is in place in all custody areas of police stations and any other places where any detainee may be present, except where this would violate their right to consult with a lawyer or doctor in private, and make the use of such equipment compulsory in all cases. All interrogations should be video and audio recorded. These recordings must be kept in a secure facility for a reasonable period of time in order to ensure they are available for viewing by investigators if so required.


Amnesty International recommends that the Spanish judicial authorities should:


  • Deny requests to authorise incommunicado detention;

  • Order the comprehensive use of audiovisual recording measures throughout the detention period;

  • Authorise medical examinations by a doctor of the detainee's own choice if so requested;

  • Authorise detainees to be assisted by a lawyer of their own choice if so requested;

  • Ensure all detainees are presented personally before the judge at the earliest opportunity;

  • Ensure judges take full advantage of their powers to supervise the condition of detainees under their responsibility, including by personal visits to places of detention where appropriate.


Amnesty International recommends that the Spanish law enforcement agencies should:


  • Ensure law enforcement officers refrain from questioning detainees without a lawyer present;

  • Ensure law enforcement officers never attempt to obstruct lawyers from fulfilling their role during questioning of the detainee, including by prohibiting them from speaking;

  • Immediately initiate thorough and effective disciplinary investigations wherever there is an allegation of ill-treatment or other grounds to believe ill-treatment may have taken place. Where evidence is uncovered of possible criminal acts, this must be passed immediately to the judicial authorities for further investigation.