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UN rights experts urge Spain to provide justice for disappeared

The Spanish government must do more to provide information on the whereabouts of individuals who disappeared during the Spanish Civil War [BBC backgrounder] and the Francisco Franco regime, experts from the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances [official website] demanded [press release] Monday. The working group compiled preliminary observations and recommendations [text, in Spanish] during a visit to Spain last week. The UN representatives criticized the Spanish government, stating that, "since the return of democracy, Spain has taken limited steps to ensure truth, justice, reparation and memory for the cases of enforced disappearances committed during the Civil War and the dictatorship." The working group expressed concern over the scope of the 2007 Historical Memory Law [text, PDF, in Spanish] and the lack of funds the government has devoted to implementation of the laws provisions that include aid to the victims and descendants of victims of the Civil War and the Francoist regime. Findings will be published in a report to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in 2014.

Last month an Argentine judge issued warrants [JURIST report] for four former Spanish officials accused of human rights violations during the Franco regime. In September 2010 an appeals court in Argentina reopened [JURIST report] an investigation into crimes against humanity committed in Spain during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Franco regime. The case was brought to federal court in April 2010 [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed] by Argentinian relatives of Spanish citizens killed during the Franco regime. The Spanish Supreme Court charged National Court Judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] with abusing power by ordering the exhumation [JURIST report] of 19 mass graves in Spain in order to assemble a definitive national registry of Civil War victims, despite a 1977 law that provides amnesty for Franco-era crimes. He was acquitted in a 6-1 decision by the Spanish Supreme Court [official website] in 2012.

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