Wednesday, 14 December 2016

European Parliament urges Spain to investigate Francoism crimes


Strasbourg (CNA).- The European Parliament is joining the calls from the Council of Europe and the United Nations for Spain to investigate Francoism crimes. MEPs approved on Tuesday an amendment which deems it “essential” that all Member States cooperate with national and international judicial investigations aimed at “ensuring truth, justice and reparations for victims of crimes against humanity committed by totalitarian regimes in the EU”. The text also calls on the European Commission to make an “objective assessment of the situation” in “all” states “to promote the historical memory”. The amendment was promoted by MEPs from the Catalan left-wing pro-independence party (ERC), the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT), the Catalan Green-Socialist party (ICV), as well as the Basque Nationalist Party (PNB) and the alternative left and radical Basque independence party Bildu.

The request of the European Parliament to promote research on the crimes of the Franco regime is included in a resolution on fundamental rights in the EU. The draft was written by the Slovak MEP from the European People's Party (EPP), József Nagy, and was approved on Tuesday with 456 votes in favour, 138 against and 104 abstentions.

Catalan MEPs Josep Maria Terricabras and Ernest Maragall (ERC), Ramon Tremosa (PDeCAT), Ernest Urtasun (ICV) and Francesc Gambús (Independent), as well as the Basque MEPs Izaskun Bilbao (PNB) and Josu Juaristi (Bildu), among others, are the promoters of this amendment on the historical memory that was finally passed by the plenary.

While calling for the support of all Member States for “national and international” investigations on crimes against humanity, the European Parliament urges Spain to respond to legal petitions made by Judge Maria Servini in Argentina. The magistrate leads the ongoing judicial process against the crimes of Franco’s regime. In addition, point 63 of the resolution says that Member States should “provide all the necessary training to all professionals of justice” on this matter. Furthermore, it warns that “violating international recommendations on historical memory and the principles of universal jurisdiction infringe basic principles of the rule of law”.

A “direct reference to Spain”

ICV MEP Ernest Urtasun said that the text adopted on historical memory “is obviously a direct reference to Spain”. The Spanish State, he recalled, is “an exception in the EU” because it is the “only” country where “impunity persists”: “people who committed crimes during Francoism are not being prosecuted and victims are not receiving reparations”, he said. In addition, Urtasun stressed, the Conservative People Party’s (PP) Government “does not collaborate with international investigations”, such as the one conducted by Judge Servini. The resolution “is clearly an allusion to Spain and thus we are very happy”, he said.

“Spain is, after Cambodia, the country in the world that has the most people missing” recalled the PDECAT MEP Ramon Tremosa, one of the promoters of the amendment. Indeed, currently in Catalonia there are 390 mass graves and the number of people who went missing during the Franco era and are still yet to be located totals 4,912 people. The politician also lamented that “the Spanish Government has never wanted to investigate Francoism crimes”.

Tremosa highlighted that the “massive vote” in the European Parliament will allow “good practices of democratic countries” to “prevail over the way of doing things of the PP Spanish Government”. In this vein, he celebrated that the Catalan Government has already started to work on the subject, opening a DNA bank in a bid to identify some of the 114,000 people who disappeared during the Spanish Civil War and subsequent dictatorship.

For ERC MEP Josep Maria Terricabras the vote is “essential” and represents a political message from the European Parliament: “it requires much more of Spain” in order advance in the field of historical memory, he said.

  • Parlament_Europeu

  • Image of the European Parliament (by ACN)