There were continued reports of excessive use of force by police during demonstrations. Human rights bodies condemned Spain for the lack of adequate investigations into allegations of torture.
Demonstrations continued throughout the year, calling for changes in the political system to allow for greater public participation in political affairs and to protest against austerity measures implemented to combat the financial and economic crisis.
In June, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended that Spain review reforms adopted in relation to the financial crisis to ensure that all austerity measures upheld economic, social and cultural rights and were temporary, proportionate and without prejudice to those rights. The Committee also recommended taking legislative measures to ensure that economic, social and cultural rights enjoy the same protections as civil and political rights.
No violent attacks by the armed Basque group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) were reported during 2012, after the group announced the end of its armed struggle in October 2011.
In November, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that same-sex marriage was consistent with the provisions of the Spanish Constitution, following the Popular Party’s 2005 appeal against legislation permitting same-sex marriage.Top of page
Demonstrations took place throughout the year in different cities including Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. There were frequent allegations of excessive use of force and of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials while dispersing crowds during the protests. In general, investigations into complaints were not thorough or effective; some were made impossible by the lack of identification tags on the uniforms of police alleged to have been involved.
Investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment were often inadequate and recognized as such in decisions adopted by human rights bodies and courts during the year.
Investigations of crimes committed by members of the armed group ETA continued.
Spain again failed to implement international human rights bodies’ recommendations to abolish the use of incommunicado detention for people suspected of terrorism-related offences. The practice allows detainees to be held for up to 13 days, during which time they are denied access to a doctor or lawyer of their choice, cannot consult their state-appointed lawyer in private and cannot have their family informed of their whereabouts.
Muslims and other religious minorities continued to face obstacles in obtaining permits to open places of worship in some municipalities in Catalonia, following local moratoriums on new places of worship. Some local authorities, political parties and associations of neighbours continued to voice opposition to the establishment of Muslim prayer rooms.
Restrictions on wearing religious symbols and dress were maintained in some schools and continued to have a disproportionate impact on Muslim pupils.
During 2012, 46 women were killed by their partners or former partners, according to the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality. A survey carried out by the Spanish government estimated that more than 2 million women had suffered gender violence by partners or ex-partners at least once. Seven years after the introduction of the law against gender-based violence, women continued to lack access to effective remedies. Since 2005, when specialized tribunals on violence against women were set up, no assessment has been made of the obstacles to effective protection that women may face during judicial proceedings.
In April, the adoption of Royal Decree-Law No. 16/2012 reformed the Aliens Act, limiting irregular migrants’ access to public health services.
On 4 September, Spain collectively expelled 70 migrants from the Spanish islet Isla de Tierra to Morocco. None of them had access to an individual asylum procedure.
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 government implemented legislative reforms relating to the economic crisis without assessing their impact on vulnerable people’s rights.