Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called on Spanish authorities Tuesday to address the legacy of Franco era disappearances [press release], calling the failure to do so a "betrayal of justice." AI submitted a report [text] to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, claiming that the proposed reforms to Spain's criminal code do not meet the requirements set by international law for dealing with enforced disappearances. Enforced disappearances are illegal under international law, but AI claims Spain's criminal code does not meet the international requirements and does not list enforced disappearance as a specific crime. Tens of thousands of Spanish citizens were killed or disappeared during the Franco regime. In addition to a failure to investigate those past disappearances, AI says the government of Spain does not currently investigate reports of enforced disappearances. Ignacio Jovtis, AI's Spain Researcher, called the practice shameful. A UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances meeting in Geneva on Tuesday will scrutinize Spain's record. UN rights experts urged Spain to address the disappearances [JURIST report] last month.
Justice for offenses committed during the Franco regime has been slow. Last month an Argentine judge issued warrants [JURIST report] for four former Spanish officials accused of human rights violations during the Franco regime. In September 2010 an appeals court in Argentina reopened [JURIST report] an investigation into crimes against humanity committed in Spain during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Franco regime. The case was brought to federal court in April 2010 [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed] by Argentinian relatives of Spanish citizens killed during the Franco regime. The Spanish Supreme Court charged National Court Judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] with abusing power by ordering the exhumation [JURIST report] of 19 mass graves in Spain in order to assemble a definitive national registry of Civil War victims, despite a 1977 law that provides amnesty for Franco-era crimes. He was acquitted in a 6-1 decision by the Spanish Supreme Court [official website] in 2012.