• Spanish authorities summarily expel migrants to Morocco from the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, sometimes employing excessive force. Police fired rubber bullets at migrants trying to reach Ceuta by sea in February. At least 15 drowned. The government adopted limited reforms to block some evictions on defaulted mortgages, improve safeguards in court cases involving foreclosures and mortgage debt, and allow for debt forgiveness, with advocates arguing for broader measures. The government announced a contentious draft law to restrict access to abortion only in cases of rape and when the woman’s physical or mental health is at risk, and another to restrict spontaneous public assemblies through steep fines. Congress adopted reforms restricting prosecutions for crimes against humanity under universal jurisdiction.

  • European Union flags fly in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. © Reuters 2012
    Amid economic crisis and much contested austerity measures in many member states, discrimination, racism, and homophobia remained serious problems in European Union member states.  Roma, migrants, and asylum seekers are particularly marginalized. The Council of the European Union acknowledged for the first time that more is needed to ensure human rights violations within EU borders are adequately addressed, with an ongoing policy debate focused on improving responses to rule of law crises. Meanwhile, abusive practices around the EU continued without adequate action by EU institutions and member states.


  • Impact of Spain’s Housing Crisis on Vulnerable Groups
  • No End to Unaccompanied Migrant Children’s Institutionalization in Canary Islands Emergency Centers
  • Spain’s Push to Repatriate Unaccompanied Children in the Absence of Safeguards


  • Sep 24, 2014
  • Sep 16, 2014
  • Aug 18, 2014
    Spain should immediately halt summary returns of migrants to Morocco from its North African enclave, Melilla. Spain should also investigate evidence that Guardia Civil officers beat migrants at the border fence.
  • Jul 31, 2014

    Human Rights Watch welcomes the upcoming review of Spain by the Human Rights Committee. This briefing provides an overview of our main concerns with regard to Spain’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). We hope it will inform the Committee’s pre-sessional review of Spain and that the areas of concern highlighted here will be reflected in the list of issues submitted to the Spanish government ahead of the review.

  • Jul 4, 2014
    The undersigned organizations are writing to urge your mandates to address an appeal to the Spanish government regarding the draft bill “[for the protection of the life of the fetus and of the rights of pregnant women]” approved by the Council of Ministers in Spain in December 2013.
  • Jun 16, 2014
  • Jun 12, 2014
  • May 27, 2014
    The Spanish government has taken insufficient action to alleviate the impact of the housing and debt crisis in Spain on vulnerable groups, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Tens of thousands of families have faced, or are currently facing, foreclosure on homes they bought at the height of Spain’s economic boom, when irresponsible lending made mortgages easy to come by.
  • May 14, 2014
    Law 1/2013, enacted a year ago, was meant to be the government’s definitive response to the mortgage crisis. The law came after two royal-decrees, a condemnation by the EU Court of Justice and significant social pressure from the Platform of Mortgage Victims (PAH) and other groups.
  • May 12, 2014
    The Spanish government should protect women’s access to safe and legal abortion by scrapping draft legislation that would ban abortion with only severely limited exceptions, according to a letter sent today to Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón by six national and international groups. The bill, endorsed by the government in December 2013 but not yet introduced in parliament, would turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights in Spain.