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Rights International Spain has warned the UN's Human Rights Committee about the existence of crimes in the Spanish criminal code "created ad hoc to penalise actions of peaceful social protest".

The NGO, which works in the area of civil rights, has communicated its concerns as Spain heads towards its next periodic review by the committee in January 2020. It wants the body to call on Spain to reform the controversial 2015 Civil Security Law and the criminal code to "protect and guarantee the rights to assembly and expression".

The body also criticises the "high number of convictions" for glorifying terrorism in Spain, as well as the "excessively broad" definition of the charge. It says that this leads to the "persecution" of "artistic creations" which has caused a "strong impact on the ever more reduced limits on freedom of expression" and an "increase in self-censorship".


"The state has to be pressed that any restriction on freedom of expression or assembly must be necessary, proportional and justified," it says. The document makes no mention of the situation in Catalonia.

Police and prisons

Rights International Spain criticises the lack of an "independent and impartial mechanism to review the actions of the police" in Spain, likewise the use made of keeping prisoners incommunicado and the police's use of racial and ethnic profiling. It asks the UN to recommend the state guarantee that investigations will be carried out into "any act of brutality of disproportionate use of force" by Spain's police forces.

UN rulings

The body also denounces the Spain's failure to comply with rulings from the UN Human Rights Council and other bodies linked to human rights. For example, they cite a 2019 resolution by the Human Rights Committee on the torture suffered by a member of ETA.

It calls on Spain to adopt a protocol to ensure it will comply with decisions issued by the Committee and the Council, including guidelines for compensation for victims.

The Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism by which the UN examines the human rights performance of member states. Each state undergoes review every 4-5 years; Spain faces its third in 2020. As part of the review, NGOs from around the world can submit reports.

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