Amnesty International condemns party platforms on human rights for the 14 March election
In its analysis of the programmes of the Spanish political parties with a view to the general elections in March 2004, the Spanish section of Amnesty International (AI) crticises the lack of commitment to human rights, both at the level of national and international policy. AI welcomes the references to human rights that the political parties make, but considers that these proposals are very vague declarations of intent that are not accompanied by concrete measures to be adopted.
With regards to foreign policy, AI highlights a number of fields where initiatives would be desirable: using Spain's temporary position as a member of the United Nations Security Council to promote and protect human rights worldwide; attempting to support the activity of the International Criminal Court; ratifying the 13th Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture; the banning of the use of children soldiers; proposing an internation treaty to impose strict and harmonised controls for the arms trade, and imposing increased controls for Spanish arms exports; and measures to improve the human rights situation of women worldwide. AI also stresses the lack of concern expressed in the programmes in relation to the attacks the international human rights protection framework is suffering "in the name of security, and especially after 11 September", or of initiatives to ensure that the future European asylum system will provide a fair and effective hearing to asylum seekers.
With regards to internal human rights concerns, AI calls for a national educational action plan on human rights, for members of internal security forces (police, Guardia Civil, and regional police forces) to have increased human rights training, for a national plan against racism, and for the provision of increased competencies for the Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia as well as means to finance lawsuits or to document complaints in relation to racist incidents. The analysis notes that although some of the electoral programmes mention the need for measures to combat racism and xenophobia, none of them makes any proposals to erradicate ill-treatment with a racist component by members of the internal security forces.
AI also finds that most programmes do not include any concrete measures to put an end to torture and ill-treatment by the internal security forces in Spain, and that only one party commits to eliminating the "incommunicado" detention regime that is deemed to encourage torture by international organisations. AI also highlights the need for measures to protect women from domestic violence (only mentioned in one party's electoral programme); to guarantee that the Convention on the Rights of Children will be respected in relation to unaccompanied immigrant minors (see Statewatch news online, November 2003); to eliminate the obstacles that are being placed (such as visa requirements and carrier sanctions) in the way of asylum seekers, and to guarantee that they receive adequate assistance and legal counsel, as well as introducing the principle of non-repatriation to a country where they may experience human rights violations. Finally, the Amnesty report notes that only two parties mention the victims of the Spanish Civil War and of General Franco's dictatorship, with only one of them mentioning concrete measures to bring about their recognition and the payment of compensation for their families.
Amnistia Internacional, Sección Española, "Los programas electorales: Una decepcionante falta de compromiso con los derechos humanos", Análisis de programas electorales presentados a las elecciones generales de marzo de 2004, February 2004. Available (in Spanish) at: www.a-i.es
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