The Human Rights Council just reviewed the situation of human rights in Spain. WILPF Spain and the Human Rights programme have engaged in this review and have suggested several recommendations, some of which were endorsed by the UN member states in this Universal Periodic Review (UPR) exercise.
Gender based violence
Although most of the recommendations addressing gender based violence were very broad and did not tackle specific issues, 29 countries – out of 91– identified this as a priority.
WILPF is pleased to report that several States made specific recommendations in line with the ones that we suggested. In fact, although on paper Spanish policies are comprehensive, the funds allocated are not sufficient and hamper the protection of women from gender based violence.
Chile thus recommended that Spain guarantee an adequate and sufficient allocation of resources to the protection measures against gender based violence. Similarly, several States, such as the United Kingdom and Slovakia, encouraged Spain to ensure the effective training of police and justice personnel in charge of investigating cases of gender based violence – including domestic violence.
Finally, Slovenia addressed the issue of high drop out and unemployment rates among young people – particularly young women – caused by unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. The State thus recommended that Spain incorporate sexual and reproductive health education into schools’ curriculum.
Truth, Justice and Reparations
While the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Franco’s dictatorship, as supported by WILPF, was not explicitly recommended, several countries emphasised the need for measures addressing the crimes perpetrated during that time.
Many recommendations, therefore, sought to tackle enforced disappearances and reparations provided to victims.
In addition, States underlined the importance of conducting thorough comparative studies in order to address historical injustices and better respond to crimes committed under Franco’s regime.
Access to Justice
Spain has recently enacted a law setting up taxes for legal proceedings, thereby preventing access to justice to those who cannot afford it.
Several recommendations reminded the negative effects of the austerity measures and the necessity of preserving, in spite of the economic crisis, access to justice for all citizens. Vulnerable groups constituted the main targets of such statements: victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking, minors, and individuals strongly affected by the austerity measures.
Trafficking in Human Beings and Migrant Workers
Most recommendations expressed during the Spanish UPR referred to issues regarding human trafficking for sexual exploitation on one hand, migrant workers on the other.
Many States encouraged Spain to ratify the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. A strong emphasis was put on the need for better protection of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, in particular those in irregular situation, in order to ensure access to health and education.
Several countries, although commending the creation of a Spanish Special Rapporteur on human trafficking, believed that efforts had to be continued and new approaches developed. France and Australia, for instance, recommended Spain to adopt a new national strategic plan to combat trafficking in human beings.
WILPF’s remaining concerns
We regret that no member state raised the issue and the consequences of international arms trade on women’s rights. In fact, WILPF argues that arms sales to countries where there is risk of weapons being used to violate human rights must be strictly controlled. In Spain, the Parliament’s overview of the arms export is not clear and needs to be transparent.
UPR sessions are still not addressing the violations of the rights of citizens from other countries and are, in particular, ignoring topics such as arms sales and its consequences on human rights.
What to do now?
Both the Human Rights programme and WILPF Spain will now advocate for the full implementation of all recommendations and hope that the government will be open to receive support and advice in this task.
If you would like to know more on the UPR process, visit UPR Info’s webpage to find out how you can engage in the advancement of the human rights situation in your country.
Do you know what part of the process your country is in? You might still be in time to make a change! Spreading the word about the UPR mechanism is also essential to the protection and promotion of human rights.