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Vctor Alexandre
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Inici arrow English arrow Who watches torturers?
Who watches torturers? Imprimeix Correu-e
per Víctor Alexandre   
diumenge, 19 novembre 2006
Tortura No"It is not true that detainees are tortured in Spain", said a Madrilenian socialist friend of mine, "we are in a democratic State and prisoners have uninfringeable constitutional rights, guaranteed by international institutions". "And what about the political prisoners who have reported having been victims of tortures and mistreatments?", I asked him. "They just lie", he answered.

My friend is one of those millions of people who were against the Spanish participation in the Iraqi war and got infuriated when they knew about the tortures by North American soldiers in the Abu Graib prison. He was shocked due to the North American tortures in Guantanamo, which he finds repugnant. I share his opinion. Nevertheless, why do the tortures in Abu Graib and Guantanamo have more credibility than those in Intxaurrondo, for example? Why, if he has not been in any of these three prisons, does he believe only the two first ones? This was his answer: "Because there are photographs of the North American tortures but not of the Spanish ones."
It is true, we have seen the photos of tortures to Iraqi prisoners so many times on television that we could describe them in great detail. But we have seen no photos of the tortures in Intxaurrondo or other Spanish prisons. So why should we believe what the Basque and Catalan pro-independence detainees explain about what happened there? There is a good reason: because the Spanish tortures have never been investigated. This is, because there are no photos to prove it, the main evidence that they tell the truth. Exactly due to Spain's refusal to investigate, on November 18, 2003, the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg forced Spain to compensate the pro-independence Catalans that had reported having been tortured by the Spanish security forces back in 1992. Because any report of tortures must be investigated, and any judge or government against it becomes an accessory of torturers.
The article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that "No person will be tortured or treated in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way", and the article 2 of the Spanish Constitution concludes that the rules concerning fundamental rights "will be interpreted in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Therefore, Spain IS violating these rights since, even in the case that they were not tortured, the refusal to investigate it is highly suspicious, because it violates the fundamental rights of the reporting party and gives impunity to torturers. The recommendations of the United Nations to record all interrogations with video cameras, cancel the solitary confinement and give prisoners access to a reliable lawyer are not put into practice either. Moreover, the victims of tortures who dare to report it are pressed charges against. All this proves that the police is just the armed wing of a State which continues being ruled by the principles of the Franco system and showing an absolute scorn for Human Rights. In fact, the so-called anti-terrorist law is the tool which turns tortures into a legal practice, because under the protection of this law detainees are literally undressed of the most fundamental rights, with the connivance of those who should protect their integrity, and turned into objects by cowards who see in it the possibility to give free rein to their moral depravation and ethnic hate towards Catalans and Basques.

Unfortunately, tortures are not the only problem in Spanish police stations and prisons. Worse things take place, like for example the mysterious death of 13 Basque political prisoners in the last 20 years (about a death every year and a half). Moreover, all those responsible for the GAL, who were charged with 30 murders, bloody tortures and bribery, have been released, while the punishments of ETA prisoners are extended when they have fulfilled them. Corruption could not be more scandalous. There is complicity between the Spanish society and torturers, which begins with those magistrates who refuse investigating tortures (which is the same as protecting and promoting them) and ends with the silence of most of the Spanish media. The Spanish society does not worry about this lack of information, because people know that thanks to it they will be able to continue thinking that they live in a State with rule of law which respects Human Rights and that, like my Madrilenian socialist friend, all those who report tortures are jus liars. Ignorance is the best vaccine against bad conscience and the great alibi of hypocrisy.
This explains the enormous difference between the indignation caused by the North American tortures in Abu Graib and Guantanamo in the Spanish society and the apathy of the same society towards the tortures which take place just a few kilometres away. The first ones are so distant that getting angry does not cost anything and makes people feel they are doing the right thing. However, the second ones demand commitment, transparency and the moral disqualification of all those who are there to serve that fanatic ideology called unity of Spain. An ideology that justifies everything, from torture to the most abject crime. It is sad, is not it?

Fragment of a documentary by the Australian TV channel SBS about torture in Spain.
The full documentary can be seen here.

Berria , 3/31/2006 (euskara)
Nabarralde , 3/31/2006 (español)

Lluita , núm. 251, october-november 2006 (català)
Diari Mataró , 11/20/2006 (
Racó Català , 11/22/2006 (
català) , 11/22/2006 (
català, english, español) , 11/22/2006 (
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