Enforced disappearances during the Spanish Civil War and Franco regime: Time for justice
by Lydia Vincente Márquez and Javier Chinchón Álvarez

The Historic Memory Law finally approved by Congress on 27 December 2007 failed to provide victims who “suffered persecution or violence during the Civil War and franco regime” with an effective remedy, thus undermining their rights to truth, justice and reparation. The Law falls short of Spain’s international obligations, for example, denying any responsibility of the State as regards the clarification of the whereabouts and fate of the disappeared as well as of the identification of the remains. Relatives of victims must apply for grants to the government and then carry out the exhumations privately.
The Supreme Court’s decision sets clear interpretative guidelines, preventing judges in Spain from applying international human rights and international criminal law doctrine and principles. This is a clear violation of Spain’s international obligations. This decision, in fact, has brought an immediate and conclusive end to any hopes that Spanish victims’ may have harbored that an official investigation into the fate and whereabouts of their dear ones would be conducted. This ruling has certainly paved the way for the presentation of complaints before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against Spain concerning its international responsibility arising from the continuing violation of its obligation to carry out an effective investigation under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

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