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  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 12:09 pm on July 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    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
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    ¿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 1:23 pm on April 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Pro Igual has a new website 

    Dear friends,

    We have just finished restoring the Pro Igual website after it was maliciously hacked a few weeks ago. For technical reasons, it was easier to start from scratch than to try and save the pieces of the compromised site. So, please update your bookmarks and help share the new link among your contacts who you think might be interested in our work:

    http://proigual.org

    We also welcome your feedback on the site´s “new look.”

    Thank you and kind regards,

    Pro Igual team

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 11:31 am on March 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Our website, http://www.cidh.es , has been maliciously hacked, which we attribute to our human rights-related activities. We are working to resolve the problem and will keep you informed. Thank you for your support! Warm regards, PRO IGUAL team

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 6:39 pm on August 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    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 9:58 pm on June 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Did Spain just sentence to death thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS? 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    Spain is passing through tough economic times, and undoubtedly sacrifices need to be made to pull it out of the crisis. But at what cost? At first glance, the state budget 2012 practically puts thousands of people leaving with HIV/AIDS in Spain on a death row: funding for HIV programs has been cut to zero, from c. six million in the previous year.

    Why them, why so drastically? Did people leaving with HIV/AIDS cause the economic crisis rattling Spain and most of Europe? Are there no other, less cruel, budget reductions that could have been made?

    Why was the budget for the royal family only cut by 2% (c. 170,000 euro)? Could not the crown, in spirit of solidarity, let go of some of luxuries, such as hunting elephants or other animals in different parts of the world? The defence has not been particularly squeezed, either — but does Spain really face military threats? And why does the Catholic church continue receiving considerable state subsidies, in addition to enjoying a tax-free status, isn´t Spain constitutionally a secular state?

    One must question the reasoning behind at the same time cutting the education budget by 20% and the health budget by 6% amounting to nearly 10 million euro. Immigrants in irregular situation are among the first on a chopping bloc being from now on denied access to healthcare save for emergency services (and make no mistake: whenever sacrifice of the most vulnerable begins, it never ends there, it goes on to require more and more victims).

    Further to add an insult to injury, the Spanish government announced that it would support a failing bank with billions of euro. Thus banks, chiefly responsible for the current economic crisis, get state handouts taking funds from the innocent, in this case people with HIV/AIDS, as well as immigrants, pensioners, and young people. What´s more, the debt burden for bank bailouts is shifted onto future generations, both directly — through a growing public debt — and indirectly — through cutting educational and professional opportunities for the youth.

    The 2012 budget reductions, while being necessary and perhaps inevitable, show that something is fundamentally wrong with the Spanish state´s priorities and the state has better fix them before more damage is done.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 8:57 pm on April 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    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 1:44 pm on February 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    The Spanish Supreme Court upholds the sentence for the Spanish Hammerskins 

    By Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    In February 2012 the Spanish Supreme Court upheld the sentence giving prison terms for members of the Spanish section of the neo-nazi organization “Hammerskin” and ordering the dissolution of the Hammerskin-España. The 16 neo-nazis in question were handed penalties ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 years in prison, in addition to 2700 euro fine for each. The original sentence was issued in July 2009 by the Madrid court and was in essence the first such indictment in Spain.

    Note: The “Nation Hammerskin” was established in Texas, USA, in 1987 by a group of white supremacists. The movement gradually spread to other parts of the country as well as abroad. There are sections in France, Italy, Germany as well as Spain. Each national section functions autonomously, but maintaining close links with other sections. The organization´s name derives from the organization´s logo: two crossed hammers.

    The Spanish hammerskins were arrested as a result of the “Operation Dagger”in 2004. The operation was triggered by a string of racially-motivated attacks around Madrid in the final months of 2003. The investigation carried out by the Spanish Civil Guard and lasting several months led to the arrest of 16 individuals in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Guadalajara. The arrested, aged between 27 and 43, had the history of 48(!) prior arrests for violence and illegal possession of arms. The Civil Guard uncovered numerous material evidence of the group´s violent activities: firearms, ammunition, knives, daggers, baseball bats, and nazi paraphernalia and propaganda materials inciting to violence against other racial/ethnic groups.

    Note: Hammerskin España was established around 2000. It was a structured and organized movement, spreading across the entire country and funding itself through the sale of magazines, concerts, and other economic activities. It carried out regular attacks on Blacks and other persons perceived to be “foreign” in Spain. Their activities came to light following an undercover journalist investigation.

    The Movement against Intolerance that acted as a party to the case joined with the prosecution asking for up to 76 years in prison for the accused. Nevertheless, the Movement´s president, Esteban Ibarra, welcomed the sentence for “advancing fight against racism, xenophobia, and intolerance.”

    Indeed, it has been a pioneer judgment given decades of virtually total impunity for neo-nazi activism in Spain, as Pro Igual covered in its earlier article of the miniseries exploring the connection between neo-nazi movement and hate crimes in this country. CIDH Pro Igual looks forward to further instances of official investigation into neo-nazi crimes in Spain and meaningful sentences for all perpetrators of hate crimes.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 3:27 pm on February 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    The wasp nest: the origins and proliferation of neonazi organizations in Spain 

    By Demetrio Gomez Avila, CIDH Pro Igual

    This is the second issue in the mini-series of articles exploring the connection between neonazi organizations and hate crimes in Spain. The introductory article was published last month at the Pro Igual blog and is available here.

    The connection between contemporary hate crimes and neonazi movement has its origins in Spain´s troubled history since the end of the WWII. At the time when some countries sighed human rights treaties and created institutions to ensure that past atrocities would never happen again, some other countries – including Spain – did everything in their power to help nazis flee and evade responsibility for their participation in the biggest crimes committed against humanity. Thus, the country on the one hand acquired a toxic asset of influential nazi criminals settling and operating on its soil, and on the other hand missed out on the development and maturing of human rights institutions capable to contain the proliferation of anti-democratic and violent forces in the society.

    Despite official declaration of neutrality following the fall of the Third Reich, the Franco regime provided a refuge to the nazi fugitives, turning Spain into a genuine safe haven for hundreds of high-profile nazi criminals, including “Dr. Death” (Aribet Herbert Heim). Upon their arrival, the nazis immediately established a network of communication and mutual assistance via three principal organizations that facilitated their escape and resettlement. (One such smuggling organization was called ODESSA, a German abbreviation of the “Organization of former SS-members.”)

    Thanks to this mutual assistance network, as well as the tax haven the Franco´s Spain presented to them, the nazis have strengthened their cohesion as a group and grew their financial resources flowing from money laundering during unfettered property speculation on the Mediterranean coast. The old nazis lived in complete tranquility, passing their ideology and methodology on to new groups of violent extremists quietly growing and maturing within the Spanish society. By 1966, the nazi fugitives together with radical Falange members created CEDADE (Circulo Español de Amigos de Europa), the only neonazi organization in Europe legally established since the end of the WWII. Among CEDADE members were former officers of Gestapo and SS (including Otto Skorzeny and León Degrelle), high-ranking Spanish military and members of Franco´s Guarde. CEDADE was dissolved only in 1993.

    Last but not least list link in this chain of events was a total absence of any judicial action against the nazis in Spain. Survivors of nazi crimes almost did not press charges, with a notable exception of Violeta Friedman, and the Spanish authorities did nothing to prosecute any nazi crimes on their own. The nazi fugitives enjoyed complete and utter impunity. They published fighting manuals, delivered revisionist speeches and presentations, and harbored Holocaust deniers wanted internationally. Some of their published materials (i.e. SS-Werewolf Combat Instructions) serve as a reference point for neonazi groups around the world, while the so-called “Liberia Europa” in Barcelona is known as one of the chief distribution centers of nazi publications in Europe.

    Following the establishment of democracy in Spain, the nazis had to adopt a low profile to avoid deportation and subsequent criminal prosecution. At that time, international hunt for Dr. Heim brought investigators to Alicante and Malaga, and although not resulting in the capture of Heim, it shed light on a lot of forgotten information. The German police that traveled to Spain to complete investigation uncovered scores of former SS officers hiding and actively operating in Spain. (An excellent account of the nazi post-WWII activities in Spain is given in Joan Cantarero´s book “La Huella de la Bota.”)

    Thus we can see that there is a clear ideological and generational connection between nazi criminals finding a refuge in Spain after the WWII and the modern neonazi or pro-nazi organizations. Contemporary nazi criminals cannot and must not be dismissed as “maladaptable youths” “acting on an impulse,” but must be taken seriously as heirs and bearers of a deadly ideology, acting as part of an organized clandestine movement and responsible for carefully thought-out and extremely violent acts. Spanish judicial system must react accordingly, dedicating adequate resources and energy to stop and prevent legal functioning of neonazi organizations and pursue perpetrators of hate crimes with all severity of the law.

     
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 10:33 pm on December 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Looking Back at 2011: From Arab Spring to Occupying Indignation and Winter of Russian Discontent 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    It has been one tough year: tsunamis, earthquakes, nuclear calamities, not to mention suffocating economic crises across the world. Yet 2011 has also witnessed remarkable awakening of human social consciousness which seemed dormant if not atrophied after decades of dumb self-centered consumerism and prevailing political apathy.

    Spring started with revolutions in several Arab countries, putting out of business long-term dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, as well as putting to shame “old” European democracies. The stereotypes of radical Islam and autocracy-leaning Muslims hostile to human rights have been shaken, while the self-proclaimed “beacons of liberty” – France, the UK and the USA – were exposed for their cozy dealings with the dictators at the expense of oppressed populations.

    The effect of the Arab Spring has been so powerful that it would spill over into the West. The movement of the indignant started in Spain, catching on in other European countries; various Occupy offshoots – from Wall Street to DC to smaller communities — started in the USA; and demonstrations for social justice swept Israel.

    Anti-corruption protests have also taken place in India and even in parts of China, where the affluent and increasingly vocal middle class has demanded bigger say in the countries´  affairs.

    Last but not least social awakening of the year happened in Russia where allegations of blatant election fraud proved too much even for proverbially patient and politically disengaged public. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators showed daily to protest corruption and demand new elections, ultimately forcing grudging concessions – if not of the elections rerun, then at least of cleaner elections next time around.

    While concrete and positive outcomes of new social movements across the globe remain to be seen, this unprecedented in recent history awakening of public social consciousness gives hope for the new 2012 year: the year when political accountability, financial transparency, social justice and human rights may be a touch closer.

     
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