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

September 15, 2009

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

24 Spain operates an "inquisitorial" criminal justice system, in which an investigating judge (juez de instrucción) is responsible for conducting the initial investigations into criminal offences. The task of the investigating judge is to gather all the evidence necessary to prosecute an offence and to ensure the rights of suspects are protected throughout the investigation. If the investigating judge deems that there is a valid case to answer, he or she passes the case and all evidence collected on to a trial court to be heard.

25 Criminal Procedure Act, article 509.2.

26 Criminal Procedure Act, article 527.

27 Incommunicado detainees may, however, request a medical examination by a second state-appointed doctor (Article 510 CPP).

28 Confirmed with autonomous Counsellor of Interior, as of19 September 2008.

29 Manex Castro, arrested by Ertzaintza officers on 1 March 2009 in the Basque Country.

30 Draft Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee, SPAIN, UN Doc: CCPR/C/ESP/CO/5, 27 October 2008, para 14.

31 Interview with Amnesty International, 15 June 2008.

32 Interview with Amnesty International, 16 July 2008.

33 Under Spanish legislation, no detainee (including those not held incommunicado) has access to a lawyer in private before making their statement to the police. Amnesty International believes that this legislation must be reviewed urgently.

34 Brennan v. the United Kingdom (00039846/98), 16 October2001, Para 58.

35 Para 63, ibid.

36 Human Rights Committee General Comment 32, on Article 14 of the ICCPR, 23 August 2007, UN Doc: CCPR/C/GC/32.

37 CCPR/C/79/Add.61, para 12.