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Torture is never allowed, including in the fight against terrorism, UN human rights experts tell Spain


GENEVA (20 May 2019) — Spain violated the human rights of an individual who suffered torture and incommunicado detention, the UN Human Rights Committee found in a decision issued today in Geneva. Urging Spain to ensure the complainant received justice and reparation, the Committee also called on Spain to end incommunicado detention because it creates a context where it is easier to torture.

The full decision is available to read on-line (in Spanish).

The person who brought his complaint to the Human Rights Committee was a member of the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) organization. He was arrested on 6 December 2007 by agents of the Guardia Civil in the Berriz, province of Bizkaia, Basque Country, and held incommunicado for five days in the Guardia Civil offices in Madrid, where he was subject to acts of torture by agents, including sexual violence.

“Torture is prohibited by the Covenant because it violates individuals’ human right to be treated with dignity in all circumstances,” said Tania Abdo Rocholl, a member of the Human Rights Committee. “Torture can never be justified under any circumstances, including on grounds of national security.”

The victim was able to take his complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, an independent expert body composed of 18 international human rights experts, because Spain in 1985 ratified the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving the Committee the mandate to directly examine allegations of human rights violations.

The Committee also urged that allegations of torture must be investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially by the competent authorities. To prevent similar violations in the future, the Committee urged Spain to take legislative measures aimed at ending incommunicado detention as it served to create an atmosphere more conducive to acts of torture.

The next step is for Spain to inform the Committee within 180 days of which measures the country has taken to implement the decision.



The Human Rights Committee monitors States parties’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which to date has 172 States parties. The Committee is made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.

Its Optional Protocol, which to date has 116 States parties, establishes the right of individuals to complain to the Committee against States which violated their human rights. The Optional Protocol imposes an international legal obligation on State parties to comply in good faith with the Committee’s Views. Further information on the individual complaints procedures before the Committees.

Learn more with our videos on the Treaty Body system and on the Human Rights Committee!

For media requests, please contact Julia Grønnevet in Geneva at +41 22 917 9310 / jgronnevet@ohchr.org.

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