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Spain allows civil war refugee descendants to apply for citizenship under new law

[JURIST] The Spanish government on Saturday began to accept [MOJ materials, PDF, in Spanish] applications for citizenship from descendants of those who fled the country during its civil war [BBC backgrounder] of the 1930s. The law [text] which provides for return of an estimated 500,000 expatriates and their children was passed by the Spanish Parliament [JURIST report] in 2007 and approved by the country's cabinet [official website] on Friday. Under the law, those that return will not be required to renounce their foreign citizenship. It also requires the controversial renaming of streets and public places that had commemorated dictator Francisco Franco [BBC backgrounder], and provides compensation for victims of his regime. AP has more.

Earlier this month, judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC backgrounder] ordered [JURIST report] the exhumation of 19 mass graves attributed to Franco's forces and argued [PDF text, in Spanish] that mass disappearances during Franco's rule constituted crimes against humanity. Garzon, widely known for his high-profile investigations of terror and human rights cases, had previously called for the creation of a "truth commission" [JURIST report] to uncover Franco-era abuses. In September, Garzon began an investigation [JURIST report] to assemble a definitive registry of the tens of thousands of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime. Garzon ordered government agencies, the Spanish Episcopal Conference [church website], the University of Granada [academic website] and the mayors of four cities to produce the names of people buried in mass graves, as well as the circumstances and dates of their burial.

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