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16 December 2008

Original: ENGLISH


Tenth session

Agenda item 3




Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin Addendum


* The summary of the present report is circulated in all official languages. The report itself contained in the annex to the summary, is circulated in the language of submission and in Spanish only.

A/HRC/10/3/Add.2 page 2 Summary At the invitation of the Government, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism conducted a visit to Spain from 7 to 14 May 2008. He examined a number of key issues with the purpose of assessing how counter-terrorism measures affect human rights. He carried out his mission with the full cooperation of the Government. The Special Rapporteur welcomes national and international efforts by the Government of Spain to promote human rights in the fight against terrorism and to foster tolerance and solidarity as a means to avoid conditions conducive to terrorism.

In the present report, the Special Rapporteur analyses the provisions on terrorism in Spanish law and concludes that certain legal definitions of terrorist crimes do not ensure fully respect for the principle of legality. He highlights positive aspects regarding the trial of those accused of the 11 March 2004 bombings carried out by members of an international terrorist cell, but raises concerns regarding the pretrial phase and the right to review by a higher court.

Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur considers in detail the use of incommunicado detention.

While noting the establishment of preventive mechanisms to safeguard the rights of detainees, he expresses concern about allegations of torture and other ill-treatment made by terrorism suspects held incommunicado. Finally, the Special Rapporteur recommends that certain measures be taken to ensure full compliance of counter-terrorism measures with international standards of human rights.

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MISSION TO SPAIN (7-14 May 2008)

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A. Definition of terrorism

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C. Freedom of expression, association and the right to political participation

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G. Penitentiary system




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A. Victims of terrorism

B. Promotion of solidarity and freedom of expression in the Basque country

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1. Pursuant to his mandate, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism visited Spain from 7 to 14 May 2008 at the invitation of the Government.

2. During his visit the Special Rapporteur visited Madrid and the Basque Autonomous Community. The Special Rapporteur met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Justice and had meetings at a senior level with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence, the Presidency of the Government, and the Spanish Human Rights Ombudsman. He met members of parliament and members of the judiciary, including the President of the Supreme Court (who also serves as the President of the General Council of the Judiciary) and the President of the Audiencia Nacional.

The Special Rapporteur visited the Soto del Real detention facility, where he was able to conduct confidential interviews with detainees suspected of terrorist crimes, and the Audiencia Nacional (the Spanish court with exclusive jurisdiction over terrorist crimes) where he observed ongoing judicial proceedings. In the Basque Autonomous Community, the Special Rapporteur visited San Sebastián-Donostia, Bilbao and Vitoria-Gasteiz, and met with the President of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community, as well as the Counsellor of Justice, the Counsellor of the Interior, the Basque Human Rights Ombudsman, the Human Rights Director and the delegate of the central Government. He also visited the Basque parliament. Both in Madrid and in the Basque country he met with lawyers, academics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and representatives of victims of terrorism.

3. Since the end of the Franco dictatorship and the re-establishment of democracy in 1978, Spain has made remarkable efforts to reconstruct respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Parallel to this development, Spain continues its struggle against the terrorist organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), whose proclaimed political goal is self-determination for what the organization considers to constitute the Basque country. Mindful of the experience of measures resorted to in the name of combating terrorism during the Franco regime, by the Batallón Vasco-Español (BVE) in the late 1970s, and by the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL) in the 1980s, which themselves can be classified as terrorism, the Special Rapporteur stresses that acts of terrorism, including those of ETA and other terrorist organizations, amount to the destruction of human rights.

4. Despite Spanish law enforcement and judicial operations that have to a considerable degree weakened the impact of ETA, as well as the decision by the Government in March 2006 to initiate a peace process with the organization, ETA is still considered a consistent threat to security, and has, since the rupture of the peace process in 2007, carried out a number of attacks, which at the time of the visit had taken the lives of six persons. A graphic illustration of the terrorist violence was a bomb attack carried out by ETA against the housing compound of policemen and their families in Legutiano, Álava, on 14 May 2008 during the visit of the Special Rapporteur, which killed a Civil Guard officer. In addition, and particularly since the tragic events of 11 March 2004, Spain has been struggling with the growing threat of international terrorism, partly constituted by repeated references to Spain by Al-Qaida leaders and partly through the development of radicalized Islamist terrorist cells operating both inside Spain and outside its borders, mainly in Morocco and Algeria.

A/HRC/10/3/Add.2 page 6

5. Within the United Nations and elsewhere, Spain has an important role in the global fight against terrorism. The International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security (the Madrid Summit) of 2005 and its contributions towards the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the General Assembly in 2006, 1 as well as the initiative Alliance of Civilizations, represent important phases in that process. While stressing legality and the imperative of respecting human rights as key factors for efficiency in the action against terrorism, Spain has expressed its aim of promoting the implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy at the international level. The Special Rapporteur identifies Spain’s active role on the international level as a best practice and calls upon Spain to maintain that role, including through initiatives for further improvements of the United Nations terrorist listing and delisting procedures to bring them into line with human rights and due process.

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6. While the existing international legal framework does not provide for a comprehensive definition of the concept of terrorism, the Special Rapporteur has expressed the view that the cumulative characterization of a terrorist crime, as elaborated by the Security Council in its resolution 1566 (2004), represents an effort to confine counter-terrorism measures to offences of a genuinely terrorist nature. In his view, any offence defined in domestic law as a terrorist crime should meet the following three conditions: (a) committed against members of the general population, or segments of it, with the intention of causing death or serious bodily injury, or the taking of hostages; (b) committed for the purpose of provoking a state of terror, intimidating a population, or compelling a Government or international organization to do or abstain from doing any act; and (c) corresponding to all elements of a serious crime as defined by the law.

Any law proscribing terrorism must adhere to the principle of legality enshrined in article 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the Covenant), be applicable to counter-terrorism alone and comply with the principle of non-discrimination.

7. The Spanish Penal Code establishes specific terrorist crimes in articles 571-579, but does not provide for a definition of the term “terrorism”. Article 571, however, establishes the objective elements of terrorism, including a list of serious crimes committed by those who belong to, act for the sake of, or collaborate with terrorist organizations, and whose aim lies in subverting constitutional order or seriously altering the public peace. In the view of the Special Rapporteur this article reflects a proper understanding of the concept of terrorism and complies with the requirements of precision and certainty of the law, as inherent in the principle of legality.

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8. Crimes associated with terrorist violence and the penalties for such crimes are prescribed in articles 572-579 of the Penal Code. The Special Rapporteur has several misgivings about these provisions that in his view do not fully respect the requirement of legality as enshrined in article 15 of the Covenant. 2 This is the case with article 574, which punishes “any other crime” committed with the aims of subverting constitutional order or altering public peace. Due to the lack of precision in the wording of this provision it runs the risk of being applied to crimes that do not comprise or have sufficient relation to the intentional element of causing deadly or otherwise serious bodily injury.

9. Article 576 enumerates a number of acts exemplifying the crime of collaboration with terrorist organizations and includes “in general any other equivalent form of cooperation, assistance or complicity, economic or otherwise”. In a recent case, leading to sentence No. 73 by the Audiencia Nacional, a number of organizations and media enterprises were declared illegal due to their relationship with ETA, while 47 persons connected to these associations were convicted as members or leaders of ETA or as collaborators with it. In its judgement, the Court characterized collaboration as conduct that typically implies participation in the activities of a terrorist organization, while being a residual type of crime applicable to actions that do not in themselves constitute a punishable act of significance, and that, through simple activity or


danger create an offence, the result of which is not specified by the legislator. 3 This reasoning does not unfortunately add precision to the already vague provision on collaboration.

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