17 February 2009


Basque Info 10/02/09

-UN blasts Spain's repression of Basque political parties

A United Nations official said last Thursday that Spain's Law of Political Parties violates fundamental freedoms in the name of countering terrorism. According to Martin Scheinin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the law criminalizes as "support of terrorism" conducts that do not relate to any kind of violent activity.

In a 26-page report based on a fact-finding mission to Spain last year, Scheinin finds that the Law of Political Parties might be interpreted to include any political party which through peaceful political means seeks similar political objectives to those pursued by the armed group ETA. The report reiterates that all limitations on the right to political participation must meet strict criteria in order to be compatible with international standards of freedom of speech.

The Special Rapporteur also calls upon the Spanish government to consider placing terrorism cases under the jurisdiction of ordinary district courts, instead of a single central specialized court, the Special National Court, with exclusive jurisdiction over so-called “terrorist crimes”.

The report finds that judgments issued by the Special National Court are only subject to review by the Supreme Court.

The report also recommends the "complete eradication of the institution of incommunicado detention" and assurance of "prompt, independent, impartial and thorough investigations are conducted in any case where there is reason to believe ill-treatment may have occurred."

-Spain defies UN and bans two more pro-independence parties

Just days after the UN report criticizing the practice, Spain's Supreme Court barred two more parties from running in the next regional elections on grounds of supposed links to ETA. Following a request by Spanish prosecutors and repeted calls from Spanish parties and media, the Supreme Court barred Askatasuna (Freedom) and Democracy 3 Million, both left-wing Basque nationalist parties. According to the ruling, the two parties are successors to Batasuna, which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court in 2003. The election for the 75-seat Basque three western provinces’ parliament is set for 1st of March.

D3M’s lawyer expressed her anger at what she called lack of evidences and legal basis. She went on to say that police social control is scary. Candidates’ privates lifes have been tracked as far as 1983 in order to prove that they have some sort of link with the pro-independence movement. Despite such a thing is not an offence the judges take sporeous and perfectly legal acts like writing a letter to a prisoner to criminalize the candidates.

-ETA bombs Madrid’s financial district.

A car bomb exploded yesterday in a business district of Madrid, following a telephone warning claiming to be from ETA, the Basque armed organization.
No one was hurt in the blast, which destroyed about 30 cars and blew out windows at nearby offices, leaving a crater in the ground about one metre deep.

The Spanish Red Cross received the warning call 90 minutes prior to the blast, allowing police to cordon off the area before the device exploded at around 9am.
The incident came a day after Spain's supreme court banned Demokrazia 3 Miloi and Askatasuna, two Basque nationalist parties, from participating in March's regional elections in the Basque Country, because of what the court said were their links to ETA.

The explosion occured near the offices of Ferrovial, a construction company which has been involved in a high-speed rail project linking the capital to the Basque Country.

In December, ETA warned contractors working on the project they would become targets if they continued to work on the train line.

The controversial High Speed Train project has been confronted by a wide alliance of left wing parties, trade unions and environmentalists for many years now. They say this train will destroy the Basque Country and compromise seriously its future. They demand a public and open democratic debate around it so the Basque people can decide wether is needed or not. The pro-Spanish and local elite reaffirmed their intentions to imposse the High Speed Train at any price.

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