THE United Nations urged Spain to give priority to the search of missing persons.
Spain must give priority to the search of persons who went missing during the Civil War (1936-1939) and Franco’s rule (1939-1975), said the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the United Nations, which visited Spain in September 2013.
Since Spain’s return to democracy, several important, albeit timid steps have been taken to guarantee that justice and truth prevail, that victims are compensated and missing persons are not forgotten, said the official report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Originally established by the Commission on Human Rights “to examine questions relevant to enforced or involuntary disappearances of persons,” the group visited Spain between September 23 and September 30, 2013 and recommended the Spanish Government
take on a leadership role to guarantee that those steps are part of a comprehensive, coherent and cooperative State policy. Nevertheless, the group said the most pressing matter is searching for the remains of the victims.
“Given the long time that has gone by since most enforced disappearances occurred and the fact that many witnesses and victims’ relatives are of old age, it is a matter of urgency that the Government give first priority to the pursuit of truth, especially concerning the fate and whereabouts of missing persons,” said the report.
Furthermore, the group lamented that most initiatives to find missing victims have been launched by civil associations and relatives and not by the Government. “The hundreds of relatives the working group met are deeply frustrated at administrative hurdles and difficulties having access to the information necessary to find out what happened to their loved ones,” said the UN representatives. However, the group acknowledges that the Government has exhumed hundreds of bodies, created a map with the location of mass graves and granted subsidies to victims.
In addition, the working group criticised the fact that the 2007 Historical Memory Law has no budget and that Spain does not have an Access to Information Law.
The United Nations representatives said it would be necessary for the Spanish Government to draw up a nationwide plan for the search of missing persons and called upon Madrid to ratify the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.