World Report 2014 - Spain

UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mutuma Ruteere, raised concerns in January about the worsening of the situation of migrants including unemployment, restrictions on access to health care and de facto segregation of migrant neighborhoods, as well as anti-Roma sentiment.  In October, CoE Commissioner Muižnieks raised concerns about the impact of budget cuts on vulnerable groups including children and persons with disabilities, and impunity for law enforcement officials for ill-treatment and torture.

Rejecting a bill promoted by civil society calling for mortgage debt cancellation, parliament adopted limited reforms to address the housing crisis in May.  The law improves judicial review of mortgage contracts, following a March European Union Court of Justice ruling that existing law violated EU consumer protection rules, slightly broadens the moratorium on evictions, and includes measures to alleviate mortgage debt.

The national ombudsperson called on the police in May to introduce stop forms recording ethnicity, race and/or nationality and the reason for the identity check. In June the central government representative in Lleida, Catalonia, stated that police applied ethnic criteria when conducting immigration-related stops.

In October, a judge in Argentina exercised universal jurisdiction and requested extradition of two former Franco regime officials for torture. In November, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances urged Spain to investigate all enforced disappearances regardless of when they were committed, and concluded that incommunicado detention breaches the prohibition of secret detention under the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearance.

In February, Spain’s Supreme Court annulled the Lleida, Catalonia, city ordinance banning full-face veils, saying it violated freedom of religion. The regional government announced its intention in July to prohibit face coverings in public on security grounds, while news emerged in August that Catalonia police were collecting data on women wearing the full-face veil.

The CPT expressed concerns in April about allegations of ill-treatment of incommunicado terrorism-suspects and of people in police custody, and prison conditions. The committee also criticized the “prison-like” atmosphere in immigration detention centers.

In October, the ECtHR upheld its 2012 ruling that retroactive lengthening of prison sentences, limiting eligibility for parole for people convicted of terrorism offenses, violated fair trial standards. By mid-November, 31 prisoners—24 of them ETA members—had been released in compliance with the ruling.

The Interior Ministry reported in September that almost 3,000 migrants attempted to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla since January, almost double the number in the same period in 2012. Over three-quarters were prevented from entering, amid allegations that Spanish law enforcement officials summarily returned migrants to abuse at the hands of Moroccan police.