There were reports of the police using excessive force during demonstrations. Spain maintained the regime of incommunicado detention for those suspected of terrorism-related offences. People belonging to ethnic minorities were targeted for identity checks. The armed group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna announced the end of the armed struggle.
On 10 January, the armed Basque group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) unilaterally declared a permanent and general ceasefire. On 20 October, ETA announced the end of its armed struggle.
Demonstrations by the so-called 15M or “Indignados” movement took place in cities all over Spain starting on 15 May. Demonstrators demanded changes in the political and economic systems, and in social policies including employment, education and health.
On 20 November, the conservative Popular Party won the general elections by an absolute majority, and in December Mariano Rajoy was elected Prime Minister.Top of page
There were allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials during demonstrations by the 15M movement across Spain between May and August.
In January, the Catalan government abolished the Code of Police Ethics, which had implemented the European Code of Police Ethics. The Police Ethics Committee, which was mandated to receive and examine complaints from individuals about police conduct and to assess police compliance with the Code of Police Ethics, was suspended after most of its members resigned.
Spain continued to disregard calls by international human rights bodies to abolish the use of incommunicado detention for those suspected of terrorism-related offences. The regime allowed detainees to be held for up to 13 days, during which time they did not have access to a lawyer of their choice, could not consult their state-appointed lawyer in private, did not have access to a doctor of their choice and could not have their family informed of their whereabouts.
People belonging to ethnic minorities continued to be targeted for discriminatory identity checks, and civil society activists observing those checks faced judicial proceedings for obstructing the work of the police. In March, the UN CERD Committee urged Spain to stop the practice of identity checks based on ethnic or racial profiling, but at the end of the year the authorities continued to deny the practice and no steps had been taken to eradicate it.
In November, the government approved a Strategy to Combat Racism, Discrimination and other related forms of intolerance. However, a government-sponsored anti-discrimination bill failed to be adopted before the parliamentary elections in November.
According to the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality, 60 women were killed by their partners or former partners during 2011.
An amendment to the Aliens Law in July provided that expulsion proceedings would not be opened against women in an irregular situation who report gender-based violence, until the criminal case against the alleged perpetrator had been resolved. If expulsion proceedings had already been initiated, they would be suspended pending the outcome of the complaint.Top of page
According to figures issued by the Ministry of the Interior there was an increase in the number of irregular migrants arriving by sea.
According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, 3,414 people claimed asylum during the year. Only 326 applicants received refugee recognition and 595 were granted subsidiary protection.
Notwithstanding at least four rulings by the Andalusia High Court of Justice recognizing the right of asylum-seekers to move freely throughout Spanish territory, the Ministry of the Interior continued to prevent asylum-seekers in Ceuta and Melilla from moving to the mainland.Top of page
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.
The accusation against Judge Baltasar Garzón for violating the 1977 Amnesty Law was still pending. In 2008, Baltasar Garzón had launched an investigation into crimes committed during the Civil War and under the Franco regime, which involved the enforced disappearance of more than 114,000 people between 1936 and 1951.
Investigations into 13 cases of alleged crimes under international law committed outside Spain against Spanish citizens, or based on the principle of universal jurisdiction, were pending before the National High Court. However, progress in the investigation was very slow and faced major challenges such as lack of co-operation by other states.
Spanish law did not provide ways to access suitable and effective legal remedies to enforce economic, social and cultural rights. There was no law on transparency and access to information in relation to such rights.
In October, the Ombudsperson reported his concerns regarding tests used to determine the age of unaccompanied minors entering Spain. Even in the presence of passports, the test results were used to decide whether the unaccompanied minors would be given access to protection and services.
There was still no legislation in line with international standards to regulate the placement of children in centres for minors with behavioural or social disorders. In September, a special committee in the Senate stated that it was necessary to provide the highest guarantees, and to clarify, define and co-ordinate the respective responsibilities of the different authorities.Top of page