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Mr President, Spain is finally prosecuting someone in connection with the crimes of  the Franco dictatorship and the Spanish Civil War .  Unfortunately, the defendant in the case is Baltasar Garzón, the judge who sought to investigate those crimes.

Judge Garzón faces trial soon for looking into alleged cases of forced disappearances involving more than 100,000 victims, committed between 1936 and 1951. Spanish courts have routinely closed investigations into abuses committed in that period by invoking a 1977 amnesty law, which covers all crimes “of a political nature” committed prior to December 1976. The case against Garzón is based largely on the judge’s refusing to apply the amnesty law.

Governments have an obligation to provide victims of human rights abuses with an effective remedy – including justice, truth, and adequate reparations. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Spain ratified in 1977, specifically states that governments have an obligation “to ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms … are violated shall have an effective remedy.”

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Committee called on Spain to repeal the 1977 amnesty law and to ensure that domestic courts do not apply limitation periods to crimes against humanity. The European Court of Human Rights held in 2009, as a general principle, that an amnesty law is generally incompatible with states’ duty to investigate acts of torture or barbarity.


Mr President, Spain should repeal the 1977 amnesty law rather than prosecuting a judge seeking accountability for past abuses.

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