Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Van Boven: Torture in Spain

Aznar, the klein-Fuhrer most be very pleased now that the UN has disclosed that Spain is an state were torture is practiced on a regular basis. Can someone remind me why was so important to remove Saddam Hussein from power? I remember now, because he was an ethnic cleanser and a torturer, hmm, sounds familiar.

This note appeared today at Berria:

Van Boven: “In Spain torture is inflicted more frequently than occasionally”

The UN Rapporteur has recommended among the many proposals put forward that legislation permitting incommunicado detention be abolished, and the Spanish Government has responded by rejecting the report “outright”

Imanol Murua Uria – DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
Theo Van Boven, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, has concluded in his report based on interviews and investigations conducted in the Basque Country and in Spain last October that torture is inflicted “more frequently than occasionally in Spain”. He gives credence to the testimonies of torture he heard, and despite saying that torture is not “systematic”, he does not believe that the complaints of bad treatment have been “made up”.

As he believes that Spanish legislation opens up the way for torture and bad treatment to take place, he has made specific suggestions to the Spanish Government in his report due to be presented on March 15, but which is already available on the web site of the UN Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights ( among other things, in order to safeguard the detainees’ right to speak to their lawyers alone, to guarantee the care of the doctor of their choice, to record the interrogations on video, to identify the interrogators at all times and to investigate torture claims independently, he has called for the abolishing of the legislation that makes the holding of detainees incommunicado possible.

The Spanish Government has rejected all the recommendations in its report in response to Van Boven’s conclusions. Among many other reasons the Spanish Government says that holding detainees incommunicado “in Spain, at least” does not facilitate torture, in the report signed by the Permanent Representation it has at the UN Headquarters in Geneva.

Van Boven’s report runs to 23 pages. In the main conclusions the UN Rapporteur says “the system itself in Spain opens up the way for torture and bad treatment especially when detainees are held incommunicado in connection with terrorism.” He argues that he received “reliable information” to arrive at this conclusion.

As the report states, the “reliable interviewees” indicated to Van Boven that they suspected that the police “involved in the fight against terrorism” resorted to torture and bad treatment “more frequently than occasionally”, and direct testimony of those detained and interrogated “verified” this suspicion. According to the UN investigator, in the first-hand testimonies he received, he was informed about blows, exhausting physical exercises, insulting sexual persecution, and the practice of suffocation with plastic material. In the report he wrote, “The view of this Special Rapporteur is that in the light of the information received and bearing in mind the specific nature of the details of the events, these complaints of torture or bad treatment cannot be regarded as having been made up.”

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