COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
10 - 21 November 1997
Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture
Committee considered the third periodic report of Spain (CAT/C/34/Add.7)
at its 311th, 312th and 313th meetings, on 18 and 19 November 1997
(CAT/C/SR.311, 312 and 313), and adopted the following conclusions
ratified the Convention against Torture on 10 October 1987 and made
the declarations under articles 21 and 22 of the Convention. Spain
has also been a party to the European Convention for the Prevention
of Torture since 1989.
third periodic report was submitted within the time limit and was
prepared in accordance with the Committee's guidelines regarding the
form and content of periodic reports.
Committee welcomes the presence of a large and qualified delegation
to present the report as an indication of the Spanish Government's
desire to cooperate with the Committee in the discharge of the functions
entrusted to it under the Convention and thanks the State party for
its explicit recognition of the work of the Committee.
Committee welcomes with satisfaction the very detailed report, which
was amplified and updated orally, and the additional information provided
by the delegation in replying to questions and comments in the course
of a frank and constructive dialogue.
has incorporated the offence of torture and other cruel, inhuman,
or degrading treatment or punishment into its domestic legislation
in terms which not only conform to the definition in article 1 of
the Convention, but also expand on it in certain important respects,
thus providing its citizens with greater protection against such unlawful
acts; the penalties laid down in the new legislation are commensurate
with the gravity of the offences, as prescribed in article 4 of the
Committee stresses the special importance of the final abolition of
the death penalty.
126. In addition
to the special legal provisions, the provisions of the Penal Code
strengthen protection against torture, especially the provisions of
the chapter on acts by State officials which infringe constitutional
guarantees. The Committee is confident that the faithful and strict
observance of these provisions will have the desired preventive and
and difficulties impeding the application of the Convention
to information provided to the Committee, judicial proceedings instituted
following complaints of acts of torture, at both the pre-trial and
trial stages, are often of a duration which is completely incompatible
with the promptness required by article 13 of the Convention. The
Committee has heard of cases in which sentences were pronounced up
to 15 years after the events in question.
sentences imposed on public officials accused of acts of torture,
which frequently involve token penalties not even entailing a period
of imprisonment, seem to indicate a degree of indulgence which deprives
the criminal penalty of the deterrent and exemplary effect that it
should have and is also an obstacle to the genuine elimination of
the practice of torture. The Committee is confident that the severity
of the penalties, which has been increased in the new legislation,
will help to remedy this shortcoming.
Committee continued to receive frequent complaints of acts of torture
and ill-treatment during the period covered by the report.
Committee also received information of many cases of ill-treatment
which appear to constitute manifestations of racial discrimination.
the legal guarantees as to the conditions under which it can be imposed,
there are cases of prolonged detention incommunicado, when the detainee
cannot receive the assistance of a lawyer of his choice, which seems
to facilitate the practice of torture. Most of these complaints concern
torture inflicted during such periods.
Committee is also concerned about reports that although, in accordance
with article 15 of the Convention, judges do not accept as incriminating
evidence statements regarded as invalid because they have been obtained
under duress or torture, they nevertheless accept those same statements
as incriminating other co-defendants.
competent authorities should take the necessary measures to eliminate
problems related to the excessive length of investigations into complaints
of torture and ill-treatment.
officials or agents responsible for conducting criminal proceedings
on behalf of the State and society should use all available procedural
means for the effective and exemplary punishment of acts of torture,
rather than leave that responsibility to be discharged solely through
the actions of those who have suffered direct and personal injury.
should be given to eliminating instances in which extended detention
incommunicado and restrictions of the rights of detainees to be assisted
by a defence lawyer of their choice are authorized.
Committee calls upon the authorities of the State party to institute
procedures for the automatic investigation of any case of torture
or ill-treatment brought to their attention by any means whatsoever,
even when the victims do not lodge complaints through the prescribed