Spain reviewed by the UPR: departure from EU practice of not rejecting recommendations
Thursday, 13 May 2010 09:09

On the morning of 5 May 2010, the Working Group on the UPR reviewed the human rights situation in Spain. The large, high-level delegation was headed by Mr Jose de Francisco, Secretary of State for Constitutional and Parliamentarian Affairs. Representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and Equality also took part in the interactive dialogue. Spain’s introductory statement highlighted the wide-ranging efforts made by Spain in human rights and international cooperation, including as its current role as President of the European Union. Comments from States focused almost entirely on the issue of migrant workers and ethnic minorities, while at the same time acknowledging Spain’s strong record on human rights in general. Specific recommendations and comments included:

  • Issues surrounding migrant workers, including violence against migrant women, and the identification of and care for unaccompanied migrant children
  • Reports of increased discrimination and attacks against minorities, including the Roma, unequal access to housing, health services, and education, and calls for statistical tracking of race-based violence
  • Continued ‘entrenched stereotypes’ of the role of women in Spanish society, as reported by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
  • Balancing efforts to combat terrorism with human rights obligations, including amending anti-terrorism legislation, concerns over the use of Spanish airports and airspace for so-called ‘secret renditions’, and reports of torture and prolonged pre-trial detention
  • Calls for human rights education and training for members of police and prison staff, particularly with regard to the prohibition on torture, and treatment of migrant women and children
  • Concerns over human trafficking, and repeated calls for specific legislation to make trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation a crime
  • Recommendation by a large number of States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families

Spain took two opportunities to answer questions, and provided comprehensive yet sometimes overly legalistic and technical responses to State concerns. In addition to the human rights issues listed above, there was often positive mention of Spain’s leading role in the Alliance of Civilizations, and its continued role on the Human Rights Council. At the adoption of the report of the Working Group, Spain explained that it accepted 85 recommendations and would consider another 35, which will be answered in due course. 18 recommendations did not enjoy the support of Spain, although it committed itself to stating in writing its reasons for not accepting these recommendations. The rejected recommendations dealt primarily with counter-terrorism measures, investigating human rights violations committed by the police, and human trafficking. It seems that Spain's rejection of these recommendations departs from an informal practice by EU member States of not rejecting recommendations out-of-hand at the time of the Working Group, but consider all recommendations until the adoption of the outcome by the Council. It is noteworthy that Spain chose this course of action, despite it still holding the EU presidency. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 August 2010 07:51
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