Tech & Rights

RIS Informs the UN on Spain's Human Rights Record

Rights International Spain presents its shadow report for the United Nations Human Rights Committee's review of the Spanish state.

by Rights International Spain
Photo: Adolfo Lujan - Flickr/CC content

The periodic review of Spain by the UN Human Rights Committee, an entity charged with guaranteeing the correct application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, will be held in Geneva on July 7 and 8.

Last year, Rights International Spain contributed to the list of questions upon which next month’s review will be based; in fact, the final list largely reflects the concerns raised by this organization. The shadow report being presented will serve to fill in for all that the Spanish government has silenced in its responses to the committee's inquiry.

Gaps in the struggle against racial and ethnic discrimination

The report denounces the non-existence of a real independent entity charged with investigating, sanctioning or litigating cases of racial or ethnic discrimination. Such an entity would be essential in the fight to prevent and eliminate discrimination. The report also highlights the persistence of discriminatory police practices, specifically the use of ethnic profiling in stop and searches, despite official denials of this practice. It draws attention to the harassment suffered by activists working to monitor police activities and document discriminatory practices.

Shortcomings in the struggle against torture

The report also emphasizes the shortcoming (in many cases historical ones) that exist in Spain's struggle against torture and abuse, and calls attention to the concluding observations of the recent review carried out by the United Nations Committee against Torture.

Obstacles to the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights

With regard to abortion, the report warns that a reform currently underway will endanger the rights of young women under 18 and over 16 years of age who seek to abort without parental permission, even in those cases in which current law recognizes a minor’s right to interrupt a pregnancy without informing her parents or guardians, such as in cases of family violence.

Transitional Justice: no progress since Spain’s last review

The report informs the committee that nothing has been done to implement the measures that it identified in the concluding observations of its 2008 review of Spain as requirements for Spain to fulfill its international obligations towards the victims of human rights violations during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime.

Violations of the rights of migrants

The committee is advised that the practice of summary removals has been "legalized," thus endangering many of the rights to which migrants are entitled irrespective of their administrative status. The committee is encouraged to urge Spain not only to put an end to the violations of human rights committed inside the Foreigner Internment Centers (CIEs), but to go one step further and eradicate altogether the practice of preventative internment of undocumented migrants not charged with any crime at all.

Trampling rights and freedoms under the pretext of the struggle against terrorism

In its report, RIS alerts the committee to the fact that many of the measures adopted in the name of fighting terrorism (such as the reforms of the penal code, the proposed National Security Law, and the Strategic Plan against Violent Radicalization) may endanger people’s human rights.

Privacy at risk due to some government measures

With regard to the private life of persons, the committee is informed of two troubling measures. First, judges are now empowered to make "recordings of oral communications" (that is, record images in the home of a person under investigation). Second, a computerized system to establish "profiles of suspects" of terrorism has been announced. This system will have the capacity to analyze private email, phone calls and even medical records.

Obstacles in access to justice

The report informs the committee that the application of legal fees leads to unjust discrimination, and that with the reform of the Law of Free Legal Aid, fewer people will have access to public attorneys. The lack of funding for justice causes major delays in the processing of trials, and weakens judicial independence.

Gag laws

Lastly, the report denounces the criminalization of peaceful protests (and therefore of the exercise of freedoms of expression, information and assembly) enshrined in the new Citizen Security Law and the recent reforms to the penal code.


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