Updates from July, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 12:09 pm on July 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Pro Igual and Ferrocarril Clandestino present a communication to the UN Commision on Women 

    Within the framework of our work on the rights of migrants in Spain, Pro Igual has cooperated with Ferrocarril Clandestino and prepared a joint communication to the UN Commission on Women on the Human Rights Violations of Migrant Women in Spain: Detention in CIEs.

    The communication draws the UN Comission´s attention to singling out of migrant women through ethnic profiling and disproportionate use of deprivation of liberty for migrant women for mere administrative infractions, such as not having paperwork in order. Migrant women in CIEs suffer a range of human rights abuses, ranging from absent due process or legal counsel to separation from families and small children and lack of healthcare even for pregnant women.

    Pro Igual and Ferrocarril Clandestino put forth recommendations to the Spanish authorities to remedy this situation.

    The text of the submission is available here.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 4:17 pm on June 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    ¿Hacer visible lo invisible? #15J 

    Varias organizaciones queremos poner en marcha una propuesta, una que sume a muchas más. El día 15 de junio os proponemos realizar un “DIA CONTRA LOS CENTROS DE INTERNAMIENTO DE EXTRANJEROS”.

    ¿De qué se trata?

    Es un día en el que muchas organizaciones nos sumamos a hacer actividades que den visibilidad a la existencia de estos centros. Si aún no sabes lo que son y quieres información puedes consultar las páginas de muchas organizaciones y los informes que se han elaborado al respecto

    ¿Para qué?

    Para hacer visible lo invisible. Los Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros son cárceles racistas que atentan contra el Estado de Derecho. El objetivo es visibilizar esta realidad tan desconocida aún, que afecta a vecinas y vecinos de nuestros barrios. Las organizaciones que trabajamos en esto nos damos cuenta de lo difícil que es darla a conocer. El primer paso para cambiar algo es hacerlo visible. Firma apoyo.

    ¿Cómo?

    Las propuestas pueden ser individuales o grupales. Os ponemos algunos ejemplos para que no os quedéis en blanco:

    • Si tienes un grupo folclórico puedes salir y tocar contra los CIE.
    • Si sabes, puedes bailar un tango, milonga contra los CIE.
    • Si lo tuyo es el hip hop, la salsa ¿Por qué no un certamen anti-CIE?
    • Puedes escribir una poesía, una canción, un texto.
    • Si eres profe puedes dedicar un día a hablar de esto a tu alumnado, de cualquier nivel.
    • Si tienes medios puedes convocar un concurso (de escritos, de diseño, etc.)
    • Si tienes un blog, facebook, tweeter, puedes ayudar a difundir e impulsar que otras personas lo hagan.
    • Si eres religioso puedes compartirlo con tu comunidad.
    • Si sois muchas personas podéis hacer una concentración o un pasacalles.
    • Si sois pocas personas podéis hacer un acto simbólico, poner un muro de expresión, una mesa informativa.
    • Si estáis en una radio o una televisión podéis crear una cuña o un anuncio publicitario.
    • Si estáis en la universidad podéis proponer una charla, una exposición, repartir panfletos e informar.
    • Si tenéis vocación periodística podéis escribir un pequeño artículo o hacer una entrevista.
    • Si estáis compartiendo piso, se lo podéis contar al resto o a vuestra familia.
    • Si sois una asociación cultural podéis hacer un videoforum.
    • Si tenéis talento para el street art y el graffiti podéis animaros a crear.
    • Si sois más fiesteros podéis hacer una fiesta.
    • Si estás en un centro de salud, en una escuela o cualquier centro público, puedes colgar un cartel.
    • Si tienes un negocio también puedes colgar material gráfico.

    En definitiva ¡Todo lo que se os ocurra! Esperamos vuestras propuestas y si queréis os ayudamos a pensarlas. También crearemos materiales para que podáis utilizar en la difusión si queréis.

    Escribe tu propuesta aquí o mándala a cerremosloscie@gmail.com .

    No se os olvide sacar fotos y hacer un pequeño resumen para compartir
    Iremos subiendo todas vuestras propuestas, mapeando la ciudad de Madrid de norte a sur con vuestras colaboraciones.

    Al final del día haremos una propuesta en la que poder reunirnos y vernos las caras el máximo número de personas posibles. tenemos algunas ideas pero también esperamos las vuestras.

    POR EL CIERRE DE LOS CIE, ¿QUÉ DECIS? ¿HACEMOS ALGO?
    Consulta las Propuestas recibidas y los Apoyos con los que contamos.
     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 5:17 pm on March 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Pro Igual submission toward the OSCE Hate Crimes Report 2012 

    The 2013 Pro Igual submission for the OSCE-ODIHR Annual Report on Hate Crimes highlights the deficient Spanish legislative framework regulating political parties whose goals and activities contravene democratic values of the Spanish Constitution. As a result, political parties which openly propagate xenophobia and intolerance are allowed to exist and operate, gain adepts and even attain legislative seats.

    As in previous years, Pro Igual calls to attention of the national authorities and international monitoring bodies that hate crimes are not isolated incidents and do not take place in a vacuum. Activities of the legally permitted extreme right parties in Spain are one of the strongest factors contributing to a fertile climate for xenophobic hate crimes. It should come as no surprise that the hate crimes committed by adherents of extreme right and neo-Nazi ideology are becoming ever more brazen and premeditated.

    Notwithstanding some steps taken by the Spanish State to address hate crimes, even despite the simultaneous decrease of net immigrant population, the number of such crimes in Spain does not diminishes but continues to steadily rise.

    The Pro Igual Report is available here.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 6:39 pm on August 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Extreme right and xenophobic parties in Spain, Part II 

    By Daria Terradez Salom, CIDH Pro Igual

    This is Part II of the article analyzing Spanish extreme right and xenophobic parties. It continues the Pro Igual series of blogs exploring the connection between the extreme right movement and hate crimes in Spain. 

    Party pluralism is a barometer of the political health of a state, as well as a fundamental pillar of the democracy. The very first article of the Spanish Constitution affirms “political pluralism” as one of the “superior values” of the Spanish political system. That said, it is unfortunate that under the guise of freedom of expression and that same political pluralism, the forces are surging that propagate racism, xenophobia and exaggerated protection of the “Spanishness” in face of supposed invasion of foreigners “threatening” national stability, social tradition and culture in Spain. This analysis sheds light on the apparent discord between the legal existence of hate-mongering parties and organizations, on the one hand, and the democratic system and the rule of law, on the other. We seek to explain, by analyzing the existing legal framework, how such political parties manage to legally exist, take part in elections and enjoy participation in local organs of the government.

    We must stress that the present analysis by no means pretends to play down the importance freedom of expression, association or political pluralism. However, we do believe that from the point of view of active democracy there must be reasonable limits on the abuse of fundamental rights, for the sake of democracy itself.

    Constitution

    In addition to Article 1 of the 1978 Spanish Constitution listing political pluralism among the “supreme values,” Article 6 states: “Political parties express democratic pluralism, assist in the formulation and manifestation of the popular will, and are a basic instrument for political participation. Their creation and the exercise of their activity are free within the observance of the Constitution and the laws.” (“Emphasis added.)

    The Constitution envisions a rather flexible regulatory framework for political parties. But if apparently there are minimal limits on the creation of political parties to guarantee political pluralism, the constitutional limit acquires even greater importance. Freedom to form political parties is bound to respect the supreme norms, and one of such norms is respect for fundamental rights, including nondiscrimination established in Article 14 of the Constitution, as well as human dignity outlined in Article 10, paragraph 1, as a basis for public order and social peace. Article 6 is also closely related to Article 22, which establishes the fundamental right to association, and to Article 16, which guarantees freedom of ideology and beliefs.

    Political parties play an enormously important role in the democratic life of the state. They are a sign of political pluralism and of respect for the fundamental freedoms of ideology and association. They are not random formations, but are communities of like-minded individuals, who can take part in the elections and represent the wishes of their voters. That means they can end up in the state´s representative organs, which obligates them to firmly respect the Constitution and the legal norms regulating their activities.

    Law 54/1978 on Political Parties

    The Law 54/1978, presently superseded by a newer legislation of 2002, was the first norm regulating the creation of political parties in Spain. It was promulgated in 1978, just a few days before the Constitution. The 1978 Law established essentially an absolute freedom for establishing political parties, derived from the fundamental right to association. At that time Spain was trying to shake off forty years of the dictatorship and it was crucial to maximally facilitate the creation of political parties to ensure the uttermost political pluralism and representation which up to that point simply had not existed.

    The Law 54/1978 did not establish a rigid procedure for registering parties. In practice, the only limit on the party establishment and activities was a clear intent to commit a criminal offense or to fail to respect democratic norms, nothing more. When the registration documentation was delivered to the Ministry of Interior, the latter examined the papers and if there were no indications that the entity planned to commit a criminal offense, the party was registered. If such indications were noted, the Interior forwarded the papers to the Prosecutor who re-examined them. Only if the Prosecutor also found the intent to commit illegal activities, could the party be denied registration or dissolved.

    Such initially very liberal framework resulted in proliferation of political parties, including political organizations with extreme nationalist tendencies, for example, the Basque parties demanding political independence. We must also add that, thanks to the Law 21/1976 on the Right to Political Association, Falange Española de las JONS (established in 1976) – the only legal party under the Franco regime – managed to join the democratic playfield, despite having foundations clearly contrary to the Constitutional principles that would be adopted two years later.

    The Spanish political panorama since 1978 till the derogation of the Law 54/1978 has been developing in giant steps, given an incredible ease with which new parties could be registered. It was necessary for the young democracy, which Spain was at the time, to catch up, by guaranteeing political pluralism and stressing the importance of fundamental political rights, such as freedom of expression, ideology and association.

    Organic Law 6/2002 on Political Parties

    After 25 years of the original law on political parties, there was a broad consensus that the time was ripe for a new legislation. The two main reasons, expressed in the Preamble of the new Law 6/2002 on Political Parties (hereafter, “LOPP”), were as follows. Besides being pre-constitutional, the 1978 Law was simply too brief and by then has fulfilled its objective of “establishing a simple procedure for registering political parties.” Sufficient time has passed and experience has been accumulated on functioning political parties, so as to systematize and adapt this experience to the more mature constitutional system.

    The second reason for changing the law was much more critical. It was recognition that the old norm lacked “concrete constitutional limits for the establishment and functioning of parties and for their conformity with the Constitution and the laws.” Obviously, the old law could not demand conformity with the Constitution which at that moment had not yet been adopted. And that reason alone necessitated the adoption of the new norm.

    Noting passing, this omission in the old law is responsible for allowing the registration of the PxC and Democracia Nacional (both established prior to the 2002 LOPP), parties known for their racist and xenophobic tenor. The new LOPP aimed to prevent that: “the goal is to guarantee the democratic system and fundamental liberties of the citizens and to prevent that parties, in a continued and aggravated manner, attack this democratic order based on liberties, justify racism and xenophobia or support violence and terrorist activities.”

    However, notwithstanding some convincing reasoning in the Preamble, not all of the intended constitutional boundaries entered into the text of the new LOPP. For example:

    • In the Preamble to the new LOPP, the legislator reasoned that some other (foreign) legal systems when regulating fundamental rights have “formulated much more categorically a duty of compliance and stricter subjection to the constitutional order, and moreover a positive duty to realize the active defense and pedagogy of democracy, withfailure to fulfill this duty leading to the exclusion from the legal order and democratic system.” Such “pedagogy of democracy” is not part of the constitutional doctrine in Spain where any “project or objective is deemed compatible with the Constitution so long as it does not involve activities violating democratic principles or fundamental rights of citizens.”Thus, the pedagogical aspect of democracy has been omitted from the text of the new LOPP.
    • While putting emphasis on political pluralism, the legislator seemed to forget that Article 1 of the Constitution also listed liberty, justice and equality as “superior values” of the social and democratic rule-of-law state. If we add to this the concept of human dignity, advanced in Article 10 as the basis for a political order and social peace, and affirmed by the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal (hereafter, “CT”) as a logical and ontological prius for the existence and fulfillment of all other human rights (Sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional 53/1985), then parties infringing on human dignity should not be allowed to exist. Instead, the legislator added that this norm “is placed in equilibrium, carefully mediating between the high degree of freedom inherent in political pluralism and respect for the human rights and democracy.” This argument was trying to explain the reasons for excessive laxness of the law, but still left the door open to promoting pretty much “any project,” as stated in the Preamble, without articulating further limits.
    • The legislator expressed the intent to prevent that “a political party… attack the democratic order based on liberties, justify racism and xenophobia or support violence and terrorist activities.” However, the new law overlooked a small and seemingly insignificant detail. The cited paragraph of the Preamble mentions as separate activities, on the one hand, “justification of racism and xenophobia,” and on the other hand, “political support for terrorist activities,” separated by “or.” This “or” disappeared from Article 9 of the LOPP being substituted by “and.” The result of this substitution is that in order to be deemed illegal, parties or political organizations need to do both, otherwise, by default, they could continue their activities.

    While the new LOPP stipulated that “political parties could operate freely,” it did set out the boundaries on their activities: “They must respect constitutional values expressed in democratic principles and human rights.” The LOPP further outlined the motives for outlawing and potentially dissolving a political party:

    A political party shall be deemed illegal when its activities violate democratic principles, especially when it attempts to undermine or destroy the order of liberties or make impossible or eliminate the democratic system by one of the following acts, committed repeatedly and maliciously:

    a) Violate systematically fundamental rights and freedoms, by promoting, justifying or glorifying attempts on life or on integrity of persons based on ideology, religion or beliefs, nationality, race, gender or sexual orientation.

    One is left to wonder how a party like España 2000 could have passed through the filter of this norm and was legally registered, given its racist and xenophobic attitude it does not even try to conceal either in the founding documents or in public declarations of its official representatives.

    There are two more grounds for dissolution. However, this is where the legislator substituted “or” with “and” (please see above), thus requiring both clauses to be satisfied in order to ban or dissolve a party. So the apparent intention of the legislator here was not so much to ensure the existence of parties that respect the Constitution and fundamental human rights, as to outlaw political formations that supported ETA (a Basque terrorist organization).

    We do not mean to criticize this legislative intent, but wish to warn of the danger of political organizations which even though do not officially resort to violence still attack fundamental rights and the very Constitution by their discourse and attitudes. The law, in principle, should have prevented that. It is not healthy for our democracy that parties, openly propagating the inferiority of other races and calling for denying to specific groups of people some of the most fundamental human rights, enjoy the constitutional freedom to act in this manner.

    Constitutional jurisprudence

    In one of the earlier cases before the CT, the case of Violeta Friedman, concerning the revisionism and denial of the Holocaust by Leon Degrelle, a Nazi fugitive resident in Spain, the Court de facto recognized limits of the freedom of expression in the face of human dignity. It reasoned that in regards of human dignity (Article 10), there is an obligation to respect it, and “in so far as public bodies and citizens are subject to the Constitution and the rest of the legal order, this has to be demanded also of political parties.”

    However, in the case of Pedro Varela Geiss – Librería Europa (Sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional 235/2007), the CT issued a confusing decision. On the one hand, Varela´ conviction for denying the Holocaust was confirmed. On the other hand, the CT ruled unconstitutional the provisions of the Penal Code that restricted activities of political parties. The CT rejected the argument of the prosecution that the Spanish system does not follow the model of “militant democracy” and thus fundamental rights cannot be restricted even if used for unconstitutional purposes. This, by the way, was the same reasoning found in the Preamble to the 2002 LOPP. The CT did affirm that there are limits to Article 20.1 of the Constitution regarding freedom of expression when expression is “vilifying, racist or humiliating” to human dignity. The reason for declaring the provision of the Penal Code unconstitutional was its interference with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression itself.

    In the more recent case, which concerned the dissolution of a political party (Fundamento jurídico 16, Sentence 5/2004, of 16 January 2004: dissolution and banning of the Herri batasuna), it was re-affirmed in respect of political parties that those are “a medium designed for expressing pluralism and to which they serve as expression; consequently, they find in freedom of ideology the basis necessary for defining their political identity, a genuine reference for those whom they offer to represent in the process of forming the popular will.” The CT added that “restricting the liberty to create political parties amounts to trampling the rights for whose exercise … this liberty has been conceived in the first place.”

    The party in question was dissolved and banned. Yet the case served to reiterate the tremendous importance attached in the Spanish juridical system to providing protection to political parties and organizations, given their role of the guarantor of other fundamental rights and freedoms.

    Conclusions

    Analysis of Spanish legal norms and constitutional jurisprudence on the matters of political parties and freedom of speech leads to various conclusions.

    One of the conclusions is that the Spanish constitutional system seems to waver when it comes to condemning racist and xenophobic expressions and attitudes of political parties, which do no more than contaminate the quality of our rule-of-law state. Even though such parties are in minority, they still enjoy representation in the state organs of power, with all the consequences this entails.

    Another conclusion is that we cannot ignore the latent danger posed for democracy by political parties and organizations propagating racism and xenophobia. With the ongoing economic crisis, their scape-goating of immigration becomes much more extensive and socially acceptable than would be appropriate and desirable in our democratic system.

    The final conclusion is that freedom of expression should not be a catchall where every ideology could be lumped together. Human dignity is a natural and necessary limit on free speech. The Spanish state ought to adopt a more pro-active approach of “militant democracy” and constitutional pedagogy to prevent that political pluralism and freedom of expression are swayed by anti-democratic discourse.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 10:39 am on August 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Extreme right and xenophobic parties in Spain, Part I 

    By Daria Terradez Salom, CIDH Pro Igual

    This article continues the Pro Igual series of blogs exploring the connection between the extreme right movement and hate crimes in Spain. Part I reviews the three biggest ultra-right parties legally existing in Spain. Part II analyzes the Spanish legislative framework on political parties and movements and exposes its weaknesses.

    Introduction

    Freedom of opinion and expression are among the most treasured values in a rule-of-law state. They ensure diversity that must be guaranteed and protected in any democracy. However, there are groups that wrap themselves in constitutional protection while attacking and undermining the very freedoms upon which the democratic states are based. Such groups use their fundamental freedoms to spread the message of hate that has no place in a rule-of-law social democracy.

    Among the multitude of extreme right, racist and xenophobic parties currently populating the Spanish political landscape, we have chosen in this analysis to focus on Plataforma x Catalunya, España 2000 and Democracia Nacional. The choice of these particular three is based on the following objective criteria: their active involvement in government structures on different levels; their considerable media presence; and their ever hardening xenophobic rhetoric and stance during the election campaigns. The parties are reviewed in order of increase of their radical extremism, the latter party being the most candid proponent of fascism and the Nazi ideas of racial superiority.

    Plataforma per Catalunya

    Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC) was formed in April 2002, after the entry into force of the Organic Law 6/2002 on Political Parties that was much more lax in its legality requirements than the previous legislation. Led by Josep Anglada, PxC advocates the priority of setting up the national, especially Catalan, front to stop the “hordes of immigrant invaders” that undermine the national Catalan identity and way of life. PxC estimated that “Catalonia was Number 1 in Europe and Number 2 in the world (after the US) in reception of immigrants” (without providing figures or sources). This did not square with the data of the National Institute of Statistics which showed that in 2011 there was negative net migration in Spain, with the biggest drop in immigration registered in the province of Barcelona.”

    To stop the advance of the hordes, PxC proposed the following program during the 2011 election campaign: absolute priority for Catalans in access to jobs, as well as to benefits and subsidies provided by the Catalonian administration; making illegal immigration a criminal offense; and total elimination of the budget for social integration policies for immigrants. The proposed measures would require reforming the Spanish regulatory framework on immigration, the Penal Code, and even the Constitution (article 14) in order to be implemented. Notwithstanding this program, as well as some questionable public statements from its leaders, PxC does not define itself as a xenophobic party.

    For example, in an interview to the program “Between the Lines” in 2008, a high-ranking member of the PxC, Sergio Serralvo declared his admiration for Adolf Hitler. Among other things, he insisted that “it cannot be denied that our race is superior, because while the rest of the world did not exist we already had culture and civilization,” and “cultural mixing does not bring us anything. The only consequence of it is unemployment, crime and price inflation. Since the world started, it has been proven time and again that the only thing mixing does is destroy civilizations. I am a racist, but I am not a xenophobe.”

    During the latest elections held in May 2011, PxC launched a polemic video: the first image subtitled “Catalonia 2011″ shows three girls jumping rope, with a typical Catalan song playing in the background; the next image subtitled “Catalonia 2025″ shows three girls clad in burqa with an Arabic melody in the background. In the third image Mr. Anglada appears to promise salvation.

    As a result of the elections, PxC support increased fivefold, especially in the areas with high concentration of immigrants from outside the EU. Although in absolute terms this was not significant, the media registered this increase in xenophobic vote as popular support for stopping immigration.

    España 2000

    This political formation was established in July 2002. It defines itself as “part of anti-immigration movement concurrent with the opinion of large sectors of the Spanish and European population opposed to massive and illegal immigration altering the European landscape.” Among its main program points is cancelling residence permits for family reunification. Other proposals are very similar to those advanced by PxC and both groups reportedly maintain close relations and coordinate their positions.

    Like PxC, España 2000 does not openly proclaim itself racist or xenophobic, since it could hurt its election chances as well as run afoul of the Spanish laws. However, its position formulated during the II Congress does not leave doubts: in addition to outspoken preference for immigration from the European Union, it rejects “massive influx from other cultures and religions,” proposes “barriers for immigration from countries whose nationals, as statistically demonstrated, have over-proportionately contributed to worsening of security situation,” and demands that “the State cracks down on bands of delinquents that arrived with immigration.” España 2000 intolerance goes beyond immigrants, extending to other “marginal” and “overprotected” groups, such as gays, feminists, and transsexuals.

    Setting aside their attitudes towards immigration, another preoccupying aspect of such formations is their stress on security as “the primary human right without which no other right could be realized” and the demand of “the law on legitimate defense.” There is no fundamental right to security, outside of personal security, while legitimate self-defense in face of unlawful aggression, as defined in the Penal Code (article 20), entails very strict criteria to be considered as such. In other words, the political program of España 2000 not only justifies but encourages violence, and taken in conjunction with its notorious anti-immigration stance, is precisely something that Organic Law 6/2002 on Political Parties sought to prevent.

    During the last elections, the campaign of the España 2000 candidate in Alcalá de Henares (the province of Madrid), Jesus Dominguez, launched an unconcealed attack on immigrant businesses in the area: “Alcala has totally changed. Due to uncontrolled immigration the foreigners already exceed 25% of the local population. Our streets are filled with their bazaars, call centers, fruit stalls, butcher shops… On top of making our streets look ugly, lots of those establishments host shady business. I am not saying all immigrants are criminals, but without a doubt more immigration means more crime.”España 2000 managed to get representation in Alcala.

    As other extreme right organizations, España 2000 is not merely an abstract idea. It actively utilizes social networks and other media to mobilize sympathizers and spread their xenophobic message. For example, on its Facebook profile, followers rooted for Marine LePen to win the election in France so she would throw away foreigners (Muslims) and lead the rest of Europe to do the same, as well as insulting various groups of immigrants.

    From the legislative point of view such conduct may seem harmless and falling into the scope of freedom of expression. However, in the words of the late Constitutional Judge Roberto García-Calvo y Montiel, this conduct is also degrading to the freedom of expression as well as to human dignity.

    Democracia Nacional

    Democracia Nacional (DN) was founded in 1995 merging together several extreme right groups, including the openly neo-Nazi CEDADE. DN is also part of EuroNat, formed in 2005, a bloc of ultra-nationalist parties in the European Parliament and led by the extreme right National Front from the neighboring France. DN explicitly propagates ideas of racial superiority of the white race, idealizes the past Nazi or fascist regimes, and demonizes foreigners.

    DN leader, Manuel Canduela, is a former frontman of the RAC band Division 250, and in 1993 was sentenced to prison for participating in the activities of the outlawed neo-Nazi group Radical Action and his role in assassination of anti-fascist activist Guillem Agulló, as well as violent attacks against gays, foreigners and left-wing activists. Following his criminal conviction, Canduela changed his tactics but not his ideology: “We had to decide what was more important, our ideas or shaven heads. …When we abandoned our skinhead style (and I repeat, this was the only thing we abandoned), our lives stayed exactly the same. Fighting the system.”

    DN insists on strict discipline among its members during the public manifestations: “Above all – absolute DISCIPLINE. Give good image, surely TV will be there. It´s an opportunity to show we are normal Spaniards. ABSOLUTELY CORRECT CLOTHING. They hope to snap a photo of a skinhead – don´t give them a chance. NO MISTAKES. ”

    DN so far has minimal political representation in Spain, obtaining less than half a percent of votes in the general elections in 2000, 2004 and 2008. During the general election 2011, DN slogan “Our people first!” was nearly identical to that of España 2000 (“Spaniards first!”), while their electoral program was nearly entirely focused on restricting immigration. Like other extreme right movements, DN members talk of “invasion” by illegal immigrants (especially Muslims) yet deny their racist or xenophobic persuasion: “we are neither racists nor xenophobes… we defend our national sovereignty and the rights of the Spaniards and to do that we consider necessary to effectively restrict illegal immigration…”

    However, DN managed to attract considerable following among disenfranchised youth and, owing to their style, also among military. It is not by chance that some of the highest profile violent attacks in the recent years had been committed by DN sympathizers, for example the murder of Carlos Palomino. Considering the unfolding economic crisis affecting ever great numbers of Spanish people and the DN aggressively populist message, they are likely to attract even more supporters.

    In the next article, we will discuss the Spanish legislative framework on political parties highlighting its weaknesses that allow parties, such as PxC, España 2000, Democracia Nacional, among others, to exist and poison the political discourse on immigration.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 8:57 pm on April 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Anti-discrimination “crisis cards”: know your rights and defend them 

    Low awareness about one´s rights and opportunities for redress for rights violations can be a serious obstacle to attaining equality. Unfortunately, groups which are most likely to experience discrimination are also the ones which are least likely to know their rights and of the existing remedies. Thus, despite considerable evidence of discrimination and harassment against minorities, foreigners, and other vulnerable groups – in Spain as elsewhere, – reporting of discrimination is rather low. Known cases most probably present only a tip of the iceberg.

    In response to this problem, CIDH Pro Igual has developed anti-discrimination “crisis cards.” The AD “crisis cards” provide key information for foreigners, ethnic minorities, and other most likely victims of discrimination in Spain on steps to take if they experienced discrimination or harassment from public or private entities. The “crisis cards” are currently available on the Pro Igual website: http://www.cidh.es/ in EnglishSpanish, and  Romanian for downloading, printing, and sharing. In future, translations into other languages spoken by the principal minority and immigrant groups in Spain will be also available. In addition, Pro Igual will look into opportunities to disseminate this practice among other NGOs, as well as official bodies, and develop other thematic cards.

    USER INSTRUCTIONS: Each A4 sheet contains five cards that should be cut along the horizontal lines and folded in half, so they become a size of an average credit card. If desired, the cards can be also laminated and kept along with other cards in one´s wallet.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 9:58 am on April 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Pro Igual submission toward the OSCE Hate Crimes Report 2011 

    Recent CIDH Pro Igual submission for the OSCE Annual Report on Hate Crimes 2011 focuses on three main issues that are crucial for understanding and addressing hate crimes in Spain: 1) weak legislative framework against hate crimes, 2) increase in extreme right membership, and 3) infiltration of law enforcement by extreme right elements.

    The first issue is weak legislative framework for dealing with hate crimes and absence of the data on hate crimes. As covered in one of our earlier blog articles, the Spanish law against hate crimes is obsolete and ineffective. Adopted in 1995, the Spanish Penal Code does not even include the concept of “hate crimes.” The application of other relevant provisions is restrictive and inconsistent, resulting in an underestimated record of hate crimes within the judicial system and failing to deter hate crimes.

    The second issue is increasing number of adherents to extreme right organizations and their activism. In the past five years, the number of skinheads in Spain has more than tripled from c.3,000 to well over 10,000. Likewise, the number of neo-nazi, neo-fascist and other extreme right organizations and groups has nearly tripled from c.70 some five years ago to c.200 as of 2011. Their activism and appeal has intensified in the context of the economic crisis and rampant unemployment among the youths.

    The third issue is infiltration of the law enforcement agencies by elements sympathetic to extreme right ideology and/or hostile to immigration. Such infiltration has its roots in Spain´s past (the fascist dictatorship), but it has never been addressed and has been allowed to continue to this day. Disturbingly, some members of the Spanish police, Civil Guard and army themselves have been implicated in a number of high-profile hate crimes, or their cover up.

    All these factors contribute to a fertile climate for hate crimes and impunity for perpetrators. As a result, the number of racially-motivated hate crimes in Spain continues to steadily rise, while reporting, investigating and especially sentencing lag behind.

    To read/download the text of the Pro Igual submission to the OSCE Hate Crimes Report 2011, please click here or visit our website: http://www.cidh.es/

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 2:02 pm on April 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Spain´s legal framework regarding hate crimes: obsolete and ineffective 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    According to some estimates, there are up to c.4000 hate crimes committed in Spain each year. However, the Spanish law fails to keep up with the scope and scale of those realities.

    The principal legislation used for prosecuting alleged hate crimes in Spain is the Penal Code adopted in 1995. Despite being progressive legislation for its time, it contains a number of serious shortcomings that compromise its effectiveness.

    Some examples:

    • There is no concept of “hate crimes” as such, which means the existing provisions, e.g. “prejudicial motive” in a crime, have to be stretched. This results in appeals and complaints of unconstitutionality and overbroad judicial interpretation, which in turn forces the courts to adopt very cautious interpretation of relevant provisions.
    • The clause of “provocation to hate” (Article 510 of the Penal Code) is vague and as a consequence is interpreted extremely narrowly: as provocation to a specific criminal act, against a concrete person/group, and the threat of violence must be “imminent” in order for a person making a “provocation” to be held responsible. The most recent example of such restrictive interpretation is found in a 2011 decision in a case concerning the distribution of anti-Roma brochures in the Badalona district of Barcelona.
    • Organizations lacking juridical personality do not fall under the scope of the Penal Code. This effectively exempts from responsibility the host of extremist neo-Nazi, neo-fascist and other ultra-right organizations (as happened for example in case of the infamous “Libreria Europe” in Barcelona) which are incidentally among the principal instigators of xenophobia. As of 2011, c.200 extreme right organizations were estimated to operate in Spain.
    • There is no clear definition of “weapons” in the Penal Code. Based on the established jurisprudence, the definition of a weapon is also rather restrictive: aside from fire arms, other “weapons” have to meet a host of criteria to be qualified as such. Media report that neo-Nazi gangs often attack their victims with baseball bats or using their heavy, metal-adorned boots, that is, objects that ordinarily are not regarded as weapons. And so they can effectively avoid charges of an “armed” assault under the law.

    The list of legal shortcomings could continue, but the point is clear: the Penal Code requires considerable revisions in order to be an effective tool for both sanctioning and dissuading hate crimes.

    Courts, however, are bound to apply the law that exists, not that should be. The sentences, few and far apart, have not been very convincing: usually suspended prison term, small fines or verbal admonitions. Application of racism/other bias as an aggravating motive of crimes has also been extremely limited, and as a consequence there is also an underestimated record of hate crimes within the judicial system. In addition, the Supreme Court has been criticized for failing to provide consistent judgments in order to establish clear juridical guidance for lower courts with regard to hate crimes.

    Therefore, even though there were some encouraging court decisions recently, for example, the dissolution of the neo-Nazi party Blood and Honor and of Hammerskin España, they are not enough to enforce the message that the Spanish state is taking hate crimes and their perpetrators seriously.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 3:35 pm on March 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Extreme right and the Spanish police and armed forces 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    This is a new article of the Pro Igual series of blogs investigating the connection between the neo-Nazi movement and hate crimes in Spain.

    As discussed throughout the series, Spain became home to considerable numbers of high-ranking Nazis fleeing criminal prosecution in Europe after the WWII. In addition, Spain at that time itself was a fascist dictatorship. Hence it is logical that there were rather cozy relations established between the fugitive Nazis and members of the Spanish armed forces and the police. However, even after Franco´s death, following the transition and the establishment of democracy in Spain, there has never been any critical review of this historic legacy. The result is that not only does Spain lack a sufficient legal framework to address racially-motivated violence and hate crimes, but the very institutions charged with protecting society from such crimes – the police and Civil Guard – may be not entirely immune from the presence of, or infiltration by neo-Nazi/pro-fascist elements.

    In 1995 none other than the then President Adolfo Suarez admitted in an interview on the Spanish television noted that there had been no purges in the Spanish power structures from the pro-fascist elements and the very idea of such purges seemed ludicrous. And so, old and neo-Nazis, former fascists and their sympathizers were allowed to remain or to join the Spanish police, Civil guard and the army, as well as serving in various private security firms with close links to the government structures.

    It is remarkable that one of the very first cases classified as hate crime against immigrants in Spain was committed by a member of the Civil Guard, in 1992. The victim was a harmless Dominican woman, Lucrecia Perez. Among the group of other immigrant women, utterly defenseless, she was attacked under the cover of the night and shot at by four masked men, whose leader was later identified as a member of the Civil Guard with close links to the local neo-Nazi gangs and a prior record of violent racism.

    In one of the Pro Igual´s earlier blog articles we briefly highlighted the role of the Spanish police in the international hunt for Dr. Death (Aribert Heim). Because of the tip-off from someone inside the Spanish police, Heim escaped and was never captured or found again, along with some other Nazi criminals who were able to change their location and avoid imminent arrests.

    More recently, in the course of the “Operation Armor” against a major neo-Nazi structure engaged in organized crime in Valencia – including trafficking of arms from the Spanish soldiers to neo-Nazis – criminal investigators complained about constant info leaks that impeded or sabotaged the operation, so that planned searches of the suspects´ premises had to be moved forward. One of the intercepted and recorded telephone conversations presented as evidence to the court sounded like this: “Listen, so-an-so from the Government delegation called me, they´re gonna search the headquarters in two days.” Members of the Civil Guard conducting investigation also reportedly stated that some of their own colleagues turned out to be neo-Nazi moles. See, http://borreruak.blogspot.com/2010/07/entrevista-con-joan-cantarero-autor-de.html. Despite this clear evidence of insider informants, there has been no separate investigation into infiltration by the neo-Nazis of the police, Civil Guard or even in this case of the Valencian regional government.

    Extreme right/neo-Nazi elements are reported to be a regular occurrence also in the Spanish armed forces. During the 2003 US invasion of Iraq where soldiers from other NATO countries also participated, some Spanish soldiers were spotted wearing “mata moros” (“kill the moors”) pins which are traditionally associated with extreme right nationalistic organizations. Most recently, in Malaga, during the religious celebrations around Easter 2011, a swastika tattoo on the arm of an active-duty Spanish soldier caught attention of the media and caused considerable public resonance.

    Media on a regular basis report sightings of the members of the police, Civil Guard and the army – in their capacity as participants – at the pro-Nazi social events, such RAC music concerts, specific football fan gatherings, and the like.

    In recent years, a number of high-profile racially- or ideologically-motivated murders had been committed by extreme right-leaning members of the Spanish Civil Guard, the police, and the army:

    • In 2007, a Spanish soldier with links to neo-Nazis killed anti-fascist activist Carlos Palomino; the family of the victim reported sneers and mockery from the police throughout the investigation and court process.
    • In 2008, in the military quarters El Bruc, Barcelona, 10 masked Spanish soldiers beat up 3 soldiers of the immigrant background.
    • Meanwhile, the same year in Madrid, the police protected neo-Nazis holding a demonstration in a working district with large immigrant population, while battering anti-Nazi protesters; the police used batons and fire arms, at least three persons (anti-fascists) were wounded, one lost an eye, one woman was brutally stomped over by the police. Civil society activists claim it is typical that the police beat up anti-fascists but turn a blind eye to neo-Nazis, even if the latter are heavily armed, see: http://www.publico.es/espana/221064/la-policia-no-cachea-a-los-nazis-armados-en-las-manifestaciones.
    • In 2009, guards accused of particular brutality towards inmates in the infamous CIEs (Centros de Internamiento para Estranjeros) coincidentally also sported shaven heads and neo-Nazi tattoos or symbols, besides allegedly using ethnic and racial slurs characteristic of the extreme right´s jargon. (Pro Igual covered the situation in the Spanish CIEs in its past articles, see here and here.)
    • In the early 2012, the Valencian police brutally suppressed the demonstration of underage students, who were “armed” with books and protested budget cuts for education. What is interesting, in addition to Valencia being the preferred location for ex-Nazi fugitives, is that the chief of the police there does not even try to hide his sympathy towards the extreme right. See: chief of the police there does not even try to hide his sympathy towards the extreme right.

    These cases, especially taken in the context of Spanish history, are more than unrelated incidents. They suggest systematic infiltration of the power structures of the Spanish state by neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, and other extreme right elements. If not for tireless efforts of the Spanish civil society, even a greater number of racially-motivated attacks and hate crimes committed by right-wing sympathizers serving in those organs would have remained covered up and forgotten.

    The next article of the series will address specifically Spanish civil society movement and initiatives developed to address and counter hate crimes and propaganda by the Spanish extreme right.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 10:36 pm on March 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Not a very good day for equality in Germany 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    Last week the highest appellate court in Germany ruled that hotels could turn away right-wing extremists on grounds of the latter´ political views.

    The case that received considerable domestic attention concerned a hotel in the state of Brandenburg which, in 2009, refused to provide a room to the former head of the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD), Udo Voigt. Voigt sued the hotel for discrimination, for banning him on the grounds of his political opinions. The hotel argued that the right-wing extremist´s presence was detrimental to the hotel´s image and reputation. The lower instance courts found in favor of the hotel.

    The Federal Court of Justice ruled that while the hotel could not retroactively cancel the booking, because it failed to demonstrate how Vogt had previously upset other guests with his presence, the hotel was fundamentally “free to decide whom it accepts and whom it does not.” The highest Court admitted that the case raised extremely difficult legal issues, including whether hotels (and by extension restaurants, discos, shops, etc.) are public spaces open to everyone. The case also pitted personal freedom/autonomy against equality. Article 3 of the German Basic Law bans discrimination, inter alia, on the basis of religious or political views. However, the Court stated this principle may not apply between private people and companies.

    This is where the Court, in my opinion, was monumentally wrong. First of all, the principle of discrimination does apply in both public and private sphere. Although the concept may be still new and even somewhat alien in Germany, the EU Race Directive, which Germany had to transpose, extends prohibition of discrimination to both public and private sector. Article 3.1(h) of the Race Directive specifically stipulates non-discriminatory “access to and supply of goods and services which are available to the public, including housing.” Second, the German Basic Law (Article 18) contains a clause whereby persons abusing their constitutional rights could forfeit those rights. The German Court chose instead to conclude that private establishments are free to choose whether and to whom render their services.

    So, before we yield to the temptation to celebrate that neo-Nazi thugs would from now on sleep in the streets instead of hotels, let´s consider implications of the ruling. In reality, what is more likely to happen and in fact happens practically on a daily basis: that private service establishments would turn away white right-wing extremists, or unpopular immigrants/minorities? This was a rather unique case involving the known neo-Nazi, that is, someone a priori rejecting the very principle he tried to invoke. But with this ruling, the Court has handed German private establishments a legal license to discriminate.

    All in all, not a very good day for equal treatment in Germany.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 151 other followers