Spain Still Opposed To Investigating Franco-Era War Crimes

By Christina Berger
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

GENEVA, Switzerland – A representative from Spain told the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday that they would not be investigating alleged war crimes committed during the Francisco Franco dictatorship in accordance with an amnesty law passed by the Spanish government in 1977.  Mexico had called on Spain in May at the Human Rights Council to punish those responsible for crimes committed during the Franco-era and provide the victims with a remedy.

The request from Mexico followed the controversy last April when high-profile Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón, was ordered to stop investigating the crimes committed during the 1936-1951 Spanish Civil War for lack of jurisdiction.  Garzón was later suspended by the Spanish Supreme Court for overstepping the bounds of his authority, and he currently faces trial for investigating war atrocities without jurisdiction.  His appeal was rejected in early September.

International human rights groups made oral statements this week at the Human Rights Council, arguing against charging Garzón and petitioning Spain to provide redress to the victims of war crimes committed during the civil war.

Amnesty International strongly objected to charging a judge who launched his own investigation and urged Spain to “ensure that no amnesty law is applied to crimes against humanity.”

Human Rights Watch said to the council, “Spain is finally prosecuting someone in connection with the crimes of  the Franco dictatorship and the Spanish Civil War.  Unfortunately, the defendant in the case is Baltasar Garzón, the judge who sought to investigate those crimes.”

Human Rights Watch also pointed out that governments have a duty to afford victims of human rights abuses with “an effective remedy – including justice, truth, and adequate reparations.”  The human rights group believes Spain should repeal the 1977 amnesty law that prevents investigation into all crimes “of a political nature” committed prior to 1976.

No one has ever been held accountable for the deaths and forced disappearances of more than 100,000 people during the Franco regime between 1936 and 1951.

For more information, please see:

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH – Statement on Spain at the Human Rights Council – 24 September 2010

ABC – Spain rejects calls for probes into Franco-era crimes – 22 September 2010

KYERO – Spain Rejects Calls to Investigate Franco War Crimes – 22 September 2010

AP – Spanish judge indicted over Civil War probe loses on appeal – 7 September 2010

DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR Spain’s Supreme court confirms case against judge over Franco probe – 7 September 2010

BBC – Argentine court reopens Franco probe – 4 September 2010

Author: Impunity Watch Archive