[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Tuesday upheld [press release] Spain's ban of Basque political groups Batasuna [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and Herri Batasuna for their alleged ties to Basque separatist group ETA [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. In Herri Batasuna and Batasuna v. Spain [judgment, DOC, in French], the ECHR considered the political groups' argument that Spain's organic laws (LOPP) [text, in Spanish], banning the Batasuna political groups in response to ETA terrorism, violated the their freedom to associate under Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text]. The court found that since Batasuna and Herri Batasuna had ties to the ETA, the purposes of the groups were contrary to the overall goal of democracy, and refused to extend international condonation to the possible terroristic threats that would be associated with the their re-formation. With regard to the appeal of Spanish electoral groupings associated with Batasuna that were seeking relief from the ECHR on grounds that their freedom of political expression was denied, the court reasoned in Etxeberria and Others v. Spain [judgment, DOC, in French] that since the dissolution of the political parties Batasuna and Herri Batasuna was lawful, the consequences to the electoral groups were foreseeable, warranted, and justified. If the rights of the electoral groups associated with the political parties Batasuna and Herri Batasuna had not been limited, the overall purpose of the LOPP would have been rendered ineffective. The court reached the same result in the case of Herritarren Zerrenda v. Spain [judgment, DOC, in French]. Zerrenda's standing as a candidate for the European Parliament was barred by LOPP.
In February, Spain's Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] unanimously banned [JURIST report] the Basque separatist political groups Democracy 3 Million (D3M) and Askatasuna [orders, PDF, in Spanish] from participation in the coming March elections. In September, the Supreme Court banned the Basque Nationalist Action Party (ANV) [party website, in Basque] from taking part in any political activities in the country, because of its alleged ties to ETA. The Basque Region's prime minister was charged with illegally communicating with members of the Batasuna party in 2007, but that case was dismissed [JURIST reports] in January.