Associations of memory and relatives of reprisals by the Franco regime consider that the new Law of Democratic Memory – which managed to save its first vote in Congress on Monday after the agreement of the Government parties with regular partners such as EH Bildu PNV, Más País or PDeCAT—is “insufficient” and they call for the repeal of the 1977 Amnesty Law.
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The State Coordinator for Support of the Argentine Complaint (CeAQUA) has indicated that, although the project improves the current law of 2007, the agreed text “surprisingly and unfortunately” is “absolutely insufficient to guarantee the right to effective judicial protection and reverse the model of impunity”.
The Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH), which has installed an exhibition of photographs this Tuesday in front of Congress with images of exhumations of victims of Francoism, believes that the norm “consolidates the existence of victims of first (terrorism) and second (Francoism)”. The president of the association, Emilio Silva, has declared that they will propose “to end this culture of protection from executioners” and has stated that “Parliament has a duty to make reparation to these families.”
Silva, who is the grandson of the first disappearance of the Franco regime who was identified in a grave in Spain, in the town of Priaranza del Bierzo (León), has said that in the law the word victim appears 142 times but “the word executioner never”. “[Esta ley] He is not going to judge anyone, he is not going to make reparations to victims who deserve compensation from the State, as the victims of terrorism have had, and he is not going to tell us the truth because he only wants to talk about the victims and not the perpetrators of these violations of human rights,” he maintained.
Call for the repeal of the Amnesty Law
For the State Coordinator for the Support of the Argentine Complaint, the amendment to the text that requires that all laws —including the 1977 Amnesty Law— be interpreted “in accordance with international humanitarian law, according to which war crimes (… .) are considered imprescriptible and non-amnestiable” is actually an amendment that “is still a direct consequence of the provisions of the Constitution” and despite this “the judiciary has refused to investigate” until now. “Why are they going to modify this criterion? [los tribunales]? (…) It does not modify the normative state in this matter”, they affirm. In this way, the platform believes that the “practical effect” of the text to be able to investigate the crimes of the past is “null”.
The ARMH thinks the same: “It maintains the 1977 Amnesty Law as a tool for judges to continue shielding the impunity of Francoism. It adds a recommendation that they apply international legislation that is already article 96 of the 1978 Constitution, so nothing new under the sun of impunity.”
Thus, CeAQUA believes that the modification or repeal of the Amnesty Law is “essential” instead of “trying to circumvent its application with normative provisions that are already established in our legal system.” In addition, they also defend that “it is specified that neither the Amnesty Law of 1977, nor the prescription of crimes nor the principle of criminal legality can prevent the investigation of crimes under international law.”
Emilio Silva has declared that “nobody would understand that in the Atocha attacks the State had told the victims to divide into groups” to repair some yes and others no. “That is what we have been enduring since 2007. This law announces that it will support the families in the investigations of what happened, that is, it will not be held responsible for doing so. It is going to let the families go through the towns asking about the archives that they are not allowed to access, looking for and finding testimonies”, he lamented.
the keys of the text
The text creates a Prosecutor for the Human Rights and Democratic Memory Chamber with which it intends to promote the investigations of the crimes of Francoism. In addition, the State will be in charge of searching for, identifying and, where appropriate, exhuming the remains of the disappeared through the implementation of state and multi-year exhumation plans. It will do so ex officio or by request.
The rule extends the period of persecution and violence until the promulgation of the Constitution, in 1978, and until that date temporarily limits the investigation and recognition of the victims of Francoism, who will appear in a state census. However, the creation of a technical commission has been added to study the cases of violation of human rights to people due to “their struggle for the consolidation of democracy, fundamental rights and democratic rights” until December 31, 1983. This commission will evaluate “possible ways of recognition and reparation.”
This is the novelty of the law against which the right has charged most forcefully, assuring that even the ETA of the 1980s could be considered “democratic resistance to a late Francoist government.” However, sources from the Executive point out that what has been agreed is to create a commission that will study human rights violations such as the murder of Yolanda González by the extreme right in 1980 and insist that the rule does not extend its temporal scope of application.