International News

Spain submits to the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review

In 2010, Spain was examined by the Human Rights Council by virtue of the new mechanism for the protection of Human Rights known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). This mechanism, which is applicable to all the member states of the United Nations, aims to unify the monitoring and assessment criteria for the human rights situation in the various countries. However, the fact that it is the states themselves that examine each other is responsible for most of the criticisms regarding politicisation of the UPR and has reduced the legitimacy and authority of its recommendations in the two years in which it has been in force.

In the case of Spain, the result of the UPR focused on well-known aspects that have already been condemned by other United Nations bodies, such as various special relators and the Human Rights Commission. The fight against terrorism, increasing racism and xenophobia, gender-based violence, the situation of immigrants, historical memory and asylum and refugee policies are the subjects which received most recommendations in the total number of 137.

The Spanish Government accepted the majority of them and undertook to continue working to improve and strengthen the system of rights and liberties, but rejected 21. These referred to the need to end the regime of solitary confinement, the incomplete definition of the crime of torture in the Penal Code, the signing of the Convention for the protection of the rights of migrant workers and their families, and the international obligation to investigate the crimes of Francoism, among others.

In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council will be implementing the monitoring mechanisms arising from the recommendations made by the UPRs to date. That would be an appropriate time to analyse the application of the measures that Spain has undertaken to adopt, and to continue to demand acceptance of the rejected recommendations.

More information at the website of the Human Rights Institute of Catalonia, the organisation that has monitored the entire process: