Spain: Amnesty International human rights action plan calls for domestic action to match foreign commitments

Spain: The necessary commitment – AI recommendations for a human rights action plan defines the key human rights challenges facing Spain, sets a roadmap for change and contains a list of 15 indicators to assess the government’s performance against its promises.

“Change on human rights must be substantial and not rhetorical,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan at the end of her first visit to Spain. “We will judge the government not on the basis of assurances but on the action it takes against these indicators,” said Ms Khan.

At the international level, Amnesty International calls on Spain to uphold and promote international human rights at the UN Security Council, the UN Counter Terrorism Committee and in bilateral relations such as with Cuba, Colombia and Morocco and Western Sahara.

“The new foreign policy approach of this government has given Spain the swing vote in the UN which it should use to make a real difference to human rights globally,” said Ms Khan.

“However, the government’s credibility on human rights internationally will depend on how well it confronts human rights problems domestically,” she added.

Spain: The necessary commitment – AI recommendations for a human rights action plan reiterates the organization’s concerns about torture and ill treatment, racism, restrictions on the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in the country.

“We recognise the duty of the government to protect people against the threat of violence, killings and intimidation by armed groups. We unequivocally condemn violent acts committed by ETA or others. The attack of 11 March was a crime against humanity. Those who commit such acts must be brought to justice – but justice in accordance with international human rights standards,” said Ms Khan.

“Sacrificing human rights in the name of security is short-sighted and counter-productive,” said Ms Khan as she called on the government to review the incommunicado detention regime, address allegations of torture and ill treatment and resist restrictions on the rights of migrants.

Amnesty International, the United Nations and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture have consistently documented serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment in Spain, including racially-motivated cases.

“In the past denial has fed the cycle of torture and ill-treatment. This government must now confront its obligations, fully investigate allegations, and make it clear that there will be zero tolerance for torture,” said Ms Khan.

“We call on the government to review recommendations made by expert international bodies to prevent torture. These safeguards are the best way to protect the rights of the detainees and the reputation of the law enforcement officials against false complaints.”

Amnesty International welcomed the government’s decision to give priority to addressing violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

“This is a positive initiative. We hope that the proposed law will ensure the same standards of protection for all Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Spain – Spanish or foreign, urban or rural,” said Ms Khan.

In meetings with the Presidents of Catalonia and the Basque country, Amnesty International also proposed regional human rights plans to complement the national one. Irene Khan said: “We welcome the positive reaction of the Catalan and Basque authorities to our proposal.”


An Amnesty International delegation led by the Secretary General, Irene Khan, has been in Spain since 5 June. They have visited Madrid, Barcelona and Vitoria where they held talks with representatives of civil society and members of the government.

They met with the President of Government Rodriguez Zapatero, Minister of Justice, Minister of Foreign Affairs, President of the Council of the Judicial Power, President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, President of the Basque Country, Vice-President of the Catalan Parliament, President of the Basque Parliament, Human Rights Commission of the Basque Parliament, Leader of Partido Popular.

On 11 June, Ms Khan is meeting the Leader of Izquierda Unida to hand over messages of solidarity from all over the world to victims of the 11 March attacks.

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