Spain Annual report on torture documents the "persistence of torture and ill-treatment"

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The 2007 annual report by the Coordinadora para la prevención de la tortura, presented in Santiago de Compostela on 12 May 2007 by this network encompassing 44 civil society groups working on the issue of torture, reports on the cases of 616 people who reported incidents of torture and ill-treatment in 2006 in relation to 270 incidents. It demonstrates "the persistence of torture and ill-treatment" on an almost daily basis in Spain. The figures are admittedly not exhaustive, as cases were excluded when incidents were not sufficiently documented or on request from the victims of ill-treatment themselves. Monitoring of proceedings resulting from claims documented in previous years are also included in the report.

The geographical distribution of the claims shows that two thirds of them were concentrated in four autonomous communities, in this order: Catalonia (23.4%), Andalusia (22.6%), Madrid (11.7%) and Euskal Herria - the Basque Country - (10.2%), and the provinces with the highest number of claims were Barcelona (51), Madrid (28), Alicante (18), Málaga (15), Cádiz (14) and Seville (11). The only region from which no allegations were featured is La Rioja, as was the case of 15 provinces. There were large increases in Catalonia (from 77 to 144, particularly in Barcelona, where they were more than twice the figure for the previous year) and Galicia (from 21 to 49), with lower figures in Euskal Herria and Navarre than for 2005. The group that was most often on the receiving end of alleged cases of ill-treatment or torture, interpreted in accordance with the UN definition as

"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity",

were participants in social movements or protests (186 cases, 30.5%), followed by migrants (109, 17.9%), trade unionists (82, 13.4%) and prisoners (74, 12.1%), with the number of allegations relating to periods of incommunicado detention falling sharply (from 77 to 6, 1%). The body against which the most complaints were filed was the national police (250 cases), followed by local police forces (133), regional police forces (84), prison officers (73) and the Guardia Civil (50).

With regards to the judicial situation of officers against whom lawsuits were filed (901), the report notes that 10% were found guilty and 33% acquitted, with a majority of proceedings not having come to either of these conclusions yet. As for deaths in custody, 60% of the 63 documented cases for 2006 (5 less than in 2005) took place in prisons (38), with 11 deaths in Guardia Civil stations, 8 in local police stations and 6 in national police stations. The report concludes that torture and ill-treatment persist in Spain, demonstrating the importance of an effective implementation of the optional protocol against torture, which can only be ensured through supervision by civil society, and of compliance with recommendations made by international bodies such as the UN Committee for the Prevention of Torture and civil society groups such as the Coordinadora itself, in the erradication of this problem.

"La tortura en el estado español 2007", Coordinadora para la prevención de la tortura, 12 May 2007. (in Spanish)
Summary (pdf) and Full-text of report (296 pages, pdf) 

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