Saturday, March 06, 2004

Van Boven: No to Incommunicado Detention

Months ago the UN finally had it with all the reports of violations of human rights towards the Basques and sent an special rapporteur to investigate the allegations, Spain's reaction was to tell the rapporteur Theo Van Boven to stay away from Euskal Herria and instead go to Madrid where he could get accurate and objective information about the actions of the regime concerning Basques who seek the self determination of their fatherland.

Which translates for example in the case of a rape against a woman to have the police asking the rapist about what happened instead of conducting a real investigation.

Of course Mr. Van Boven dismissed such a ludicrous invitation and visited Euskal Herria where he interviewed people from all walks of life, his findings were quite interesting and finally his report is going to be presented, hopefully the media and the international community will react accordingly and demand from Spain to shape up, however unlikely that is.

For those of you that contacted John Kerry regarding the whole thing about the comment in Oklahoma City I tell you that he apologized for it over a week ago, his apology has been posted at the International Basque Organization site. What I suggest now is that you send him an email with the UN's rapporteur results so he can see that there is two sides to every story and why it was unfair to saddle all Basques with the label of "terrorist".

Here you can read the note that appeared today at Berria:

Van Boven says incommunicado detention can be regarded as cruel treatment

In his report on the Spanish State the UN Rapporteur denounces this measure, the dispersal of prisoners and ETA violence

Theo Van Boven, the UN Organisation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, will be presenting his report on the Spanish State to the Human Rights Commission on March 15, according to the Efe news agency. Theo Van Boven says in it that incommunicado detention “not only creates the conditions for torture to take place,” the measure itself can constitute “cruel, merciless treatment”.

“When discussing torture, the Spanish representatives were reluctant to speak about it, because the subject has political connotations,” says the UN representative, and explained that he had been told that the torture complaints “were false and were part of ETA’s strategy to harm the system of justice”. The UN representative was in Spain and the Basque Country in October and held meetings with people in positions of political responsibility and social organisations. In his report he will now be condemning the implementation of incommunicado detention, just as he did during the press conference he gave after the meetings.

Van Boven says that the detainee’s right “to consult in private with the lawyer and doctor of his choosing has to be guaranteed immediately”. “Blindfolding them or putting hoods on their heads should also be prohibited,” says the report.

So in order to “abolish incommunicado detention” the UN Rapporteur’s recommendation to Spain is that cameras should be installed in the police headquarters and that all those taking part in the interrogations should say who they are in the recording.

At the same time the UN Rapporteur refers to the dispersal of Basque prisoners and has recommended to the Spanish State that their social relations with their relatives and friends should be taken into consideration. After the meeting in October he also described the dispersal as a measure “that makes life very difficult for the prisoners and their relatives”.

When he presents his report to the UN he will also be condemning ETA violence. Van Boven denounced the fact that many Spanish people lived in fear “because of the death threats hanging over themselves or their relatives”.

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