Meeting on the defence of civil rights and liberties in Vigo (Galicia)

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The organisations participating in the 1st Meeting on the Defence of Civil Rights and Liberties, organised by EsCULcA (Observatory for the Defence of Civil Rights and Liberties) on the 20-22 April 2004, want to make public the following declaration:

Western societies, and Europe in particular, present themselves as the champions of rights and liberties in the whole world, at the same time as these rights are being increasingly eroded within Europe itself.

1) Under the generic accusation of terrorism or invoking the rhetoric of security, arrested people are deprived of their basic guarantees. Moreover, a progressive deterioration in the conditions of detainees, particularly those belonging to specific collectives, can be clearly perceived.

2) Spaces of freedom are being restricted, and there is a tendency to criminalise social, political and cultural movements, as well as independent media outlets, thus limiting the rights of free expression, opinion and demonstration.

3) Special laws are drafted and exceptional tribunals are established so as to nullify legal guarantees and the right to a fair trial.

4) Through these dynamics of social control, the rights to privacy are undermined: examples of this include video-surveillance, control over electronic means of communication, the proliferation and abusive use of databases.

5) Increasingly harsh immigration laws (foreigners' laws) are being approved, with inhumane consequences. This causes immigrants to be progressively excluded from enjoying social rights and other fundamental liberties.

6) The right of citizens to receive reliable information is being contravened, with complicity by the mass-media.

7) There is a serious ineffectiveness of mechanisms to safeguard fundamental rights and public liberties.

Signatories: Ibrahima Niang (AIDA, Asociación para Integración e Desenvolvimiento d@ African@, Association for the Integration and Development of Africans); Antonio Segura Hernández (ALA, Asociación Libre de Abogados, Free Association of Lawyers,; Julen Arzuaga (Behatokia, Observatorio Vasco de Derechos Humanos, Basque Human Rights Observatory,; Rosa Franco Maside and Carlos Santiago (Burla Negra,; Antonio Rodríguez Cabanas (Asociación de Defensa dos Presos), Concepción Arenal; Yasha Maccanico (Statewatch); Renato Nuñez and Roi Ribera (MPDC, Movemento polos Dereitos Civis, Movement for Civil Rights,, Anzel Casal; Elvira Landin Aguirre (Asociación Xustiza e Sociedade, Justice and Society Association); and EsCULcA (


With the aim of taking a clear stand with regards to the serious restriction of civil rights and liberties in the Spanish State, it is an initiative by EsCULcA, Observatory for the defence of civil rights and liberties, to issue a public call to the Spanish government authorities to derogate the legal reforms that supported the repressive infrastructure over the last few years, more concretely:

1) The derogation of legal measures with an exceptional character.

2) The adhesion and ratification of the Optional protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments.

3) Lending support to Costa Rica's initiative to extend the Decade of education in the field of human rights (which ends in the current year 2004) for another ten years, and to implement the necessary measures to make this really effective.

4) The repealing of the Laws on Aliens (Spanish immigration laws) and the regularisation of the situation of immigrants and asylum seekers, in accordance with fundamental human rights.

5) The elaboration of a new model of public mass media, and a review of the system of financial assistance to private mass media that may effectively guarantee the control of information by civil society.

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