1. The Committee considered
the fourth periodic report of Spain (CCPR/C/95/Add.1 and HRI/CORE/1/Add.2/Rev.2)
at its 1479th, 1480th and 1481st meetings, on 20 and 21 March 1996 (see
CCPR/C/SR.1479, 1480 and 1481). At its 1498th meeting, on 3 April 1996,
the Committee adopted the following comments:
2. The Committee thanks the
State party for submitting, within the allotted time, a report which is
in conformity with the Committee's guidelines and for engaging, through
its highly qualified delegation, in a constructive dialogue. It notes
with satisfaction that the information provided in the report and submitted
orally by the delegation has given the Committee an appreciation of the
manner in which Spain is acquitting itself of its obligation under the
B. Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of
3. The Committee notes with
concern that terrorist groups continue to perpetrate bloody attacks which
result in loss of human life and affect the application of the Covenant
in Spain. It also notes the re-emergence of racist and xenophobic theories
C. Positive aspects
4. The Committee notes with
satisfaction that Spain has come a long way in the promotion of and respect
for human rights. In this connection it welcomes the accession of Spain,
on 22 March 1991, to the Second Optional Protocol aiming at the abolition
of the death penalty.
5. The Committee welcomes
the fact that efforts have been made to disseminate human rights in schools
as well as information on the report to the general public.
6. The Committee notes that
the new law of 15 January 1996 concerning the status of minors should
contribute to the application in Spain of the Convention on the Rights
of the Child and the relevant provisions of the Covenant, particularly
7. The Committee welcomes
the progress made by the State party in promoting equal opportunity for
women in all sectors of public and professional life.
8. The Committee notes with
satisfaction that the Penal Code drawn up in 1995 includes provisions
establishing penalties for acts of racial discrimination and xenophobia.
9. Finally, the Committee
notes that many decisions in the national courts refer to the Covenant
as the legal basis, in conformity with articles 10 and 96 of the Constitution.
D. Principal subjects of concern
10. The Committee is concerned
at the numerous reports it has received of ill-treatment and even torture
inflicted on persons suspected of acts of terrorism by members of the
security forces. It notes with concern, in that regard, that investigations
are not always systematically carried out by the public authorities and
that when members of the security forces are found guilty of such acts
and sentenced to deprivation of liberty, they are often pardoned or released
early, or simply do not serve the sentence. Moreover, those who perpetrate
such deeds are seldom suspended from their functions for any length of
11. The Committee is concerned
that proofs obtained under duress are not systematically rejected by courts.
12. The Committee expresses
concern at the maintenance on a continuous basis of special legislation
under which persons suspected of belonging to or collaborating with armed
groups may be detained incommunicado for up to five days, may not have
a lawyer of their own choosing and are judged by the Audiencia Nacional
without possibility of appeal. The Committee emphasizes that these provisions
are not in conformity with articles 9 and 14 of the Covenant. Again in
regard to those two articles of the Covenant, the Committee notes with
concern that the duration of pre-trial detention can continue for several
and that the maximum duration
of such detention is determined according to the applicable penalty.
13. With regard to the increase
in the number of asylum-seekers, the Committee notes that anyone whose
application for asylum or for refugee status is denied can be held for
seven days prior to being expelled.
14. The Committee deplores
the poor prison conditions that exist in most prisons, generally resulting
from overcrowding, which deprives those detained of the rights guaranteed
in article 10 of the Covenant.
15. Finally, the Committee
is greatly concerned to hear that individuals cannot claim the status
of conscientious objectors once they have entered the armed forces, since
that does not seem to be consistent with the requirements of article 18
of the Covenant as pointed out in general comment No. 22 (48).
E. Suggestions and recommendations
16. The Committee invites
the State party to take the necessary steps, including educational measures
and information campaigns, to avert racist and xenophobic tendencies.
17. The Committee recommends
that the State party establish transparent and equitable procedures for
conducting independent investigations into complaints of ill-treatment
and torture involving the security forces, and urges it to bring to court
and prosecute officials who are found to have committed such deeds and
to punish them appropriately. The Committee suggests that comprehensive
human rights training should be provided to law-enforcement officials
and prison personnel.
18. The Committee recommends
that the legislative provisions, which state that persons accused of acts
of terrorism or suspected of collaborating with such persons may not choose
their lawyer, should be rescinded. It urges the State party to abandon
the use of incommunicado detention and invites it to reduce the duration
of pre-trial detention and to stop using duration of the applicable penalty
as a criterion for determining the maximum duration of pre-trial detention.
19. The State party is strongly
urged to institute a right of appeal against decisions of the Audiencia
Nacional in order to meet the requirements of article 14, paragraph 5,
of the Covenant.
20. The Committee urges the
State party to amend its legislation on conscientious objection so that
any individual who wishes to claim the status of conscientious objector
may do so at any time, either before or after entering the armed forces.