Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and laws prohibit such practices, and the government normally respected this prohibition. There were reports of police mistreatment; courts dismissed some of the reports.
According to the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Coordinator for the Prevention of Torture, in 2015 there were 128 reports of mistreatment of persons in custody, affecting 232 persons (a decline from 194 reports and 961 affected persons in 2014).
On May 31, the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) condemned the government for not investigating properly the alleged torture of Beortegui Martinez, a member of the terrorist organization ETA, by four Civil Guard police officers during his detention in 2011.
The constitution provides for an ombudsman who investigates claims of police abuse. From January to June, the national ombudsman filed 494 ex officio judicial complaints, a significant decrease compared with the same period in 2015. In 2015 the Office of the Ombudsman processed 18,467 complaints.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and detention center conditions mostly met international standards.
The NGO Pueblos Unidos denounced the conditions found in government-operated foreign internment centers (CIE)–processing centers for irregular migrants–and likened them to prisons. A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior explained that irregular migrants spent an average of 27 days in the centers.
Physical Conditions: In 2015 (the most recent information available), according to the Coordinator for the Prevention of Torture, 30 persons died in custody.
Independent Monitoring: The government generally permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers, including the Coordinator for the Prevention of Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee, in accordance with their standard modalities.
Improvements: In March the government doubled to 853,500 euros ($938,900) its funding to support additional Red Cross social programs and humanitarian assistance in CIEs. The government also created a monitoring committee to track improvements in CIE service delivery to irregular migrants.
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
Police forces include the national police and the Civil Guard (both of which handle migration and border enforcement under the authority of the national Ministry of the Interior) as well as regional police under the authority of the Catalan and the Basque Country regional governments. The respective civilian authorities maintained effective control over all police forces and the Civil Guard, and the government generally has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
The law provides that police may apprehend suspects for probable cause or with a warrant based on sufficient evidence as determined by a judge. With certain exceptions, police may not hold a suspect for more than 72 hours without a hearing. In certain rare instances involving acts of terrorism, the law allows authorities, with the authorization of a judge, to detain persons for up to five days prior to arraignment. These rights were respected. Authorities generally informed detainees promptly of the charges against them. The country has a functioning bail system, and the courts released defendants on bail unless they believed the defendants might flee or be a threat to public safety. If a potential criminal sentence is less than three years, the judge can decide to impose bail or release the accused on his own recognizance. If the potential sentence is more than three years, the judge must set bail. The law provides detainees the right to consult a lawyer of their choice. If the detainee is indigent, the government appoints legal counsel. There were at times delays of up to several hours between the time a detained person first requested a lawyer and the time the lawyer arrived at the place of detention.
In certain rare instances involving acts of terrorism, a judge may order incommunicado or solitary detention for the entire duration of police custody. The law stipulates that terrorism suspects held incommunicado have the right to an attorney and medical care, but it allows them neither to choose an attorney nor to see a physician of their choice. The court-appointed lawyer is present during police and judicial proceedings, but detainees do not have the right to confer in private with the lawyer. The government continued to conduct extensive video surveillance in detention facilities and interrogation rooms ostensibly to deter mistreatment or any violations of prisoner rights by police or guards.
Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons arrested and detained are entitled to challenge in court the legal basis or arbitrary nature of their detention and to obtain prompt release and compensation if found to have been unlawfully detained. They may also seek to appeal to the ECHR.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence.
The constitution and law provide for the right to a fair public trial, and the independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them with free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals, the right to a fair and public trial without undue delay, and the right to be present at their trial. Defendants have the right to an attorney of their choice. If the defendant is indigent, the government appoints an attorney. Defendants and their attorneys have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense, and have access to government-held evidence. During the trial defendants may confront witnesses, and present their witnesses and evidence. Defendants cannot be compelled to testify or confess guilt, and they have the right of appeal. These rights apply to all defendants without discrimination.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
Individuals or organizations may bring civil lawsuits seeking damages for a human rights violation. The complainant may also pursue an administrative resolution. Persons may appeal court decisions involving alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights to the ECHR after they exhaust all avenues of appeal in national courts.
The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respected these rights. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of speech and press.
Freedom of Speech and Expression: The law prohibits, subject to judicial oversight, actions including public speeches and the publication of documents that the government interprets as glorifying or supporting terrorism. The law provides for punishment with imprisonment for one to four years for persons who provoke discrimination, hatred, or violence against groups or associations for racist, anti-Semitic, or other references to ideology, religion or belief, family status, membership within an ethnic group or race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, illness, or disability.
In July the Supreme Court ruled that hate speech is not a protected right.
The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. The International Telecommunications Union reported that 28 percent of the population had fixed broadband subscriptions to the internet and that 79 percent of the population used the internet. Authorities monitored websites for material containing hate speech, anti-Semitism, and terrorism.
To mitigate racism and xenophobia on the internet, in January the University of Barcelona’s project Preventing, Redressing, and Inhibiting Hate Speech in new Media, and the United National Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute cohosted a training course for law enforcement and legal entities in Barcelona. The event focused on the rise of discrimination and hate crimes, existing legislation to address it, and ways to investigate these crimes and protect victims.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY
The constitution and the law provide for the freedoms of assembly, and the government generally respected these rights.
In July 2015 the government adopted a new public security law that includes fines of up to 600 euros ($660) for failing to notify authorities about peaceful demonstrations in public areas, up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) for protests resulting in “serious disturbances of public safety” near parliament and regional government buildings, and up to 600,000 euros ($660,000) for unauthorized protests near key infrastructure.
FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
The constitution and law provide this right, and the government generally respected it.
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights. The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.
PROTECTION OF REFUGEES
Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. Authorities review asylum petitions individually, and there is an established appeals process available to rejected petitioners. The law permits any foreigner in the country who is a victim of gender-based violence or of trafficking in persons to file a complaint at a police station without fear of deportation, even if that individual is in the country illegally. On July 1, in a letter to Minister of the Interior Jorge Fernandez Diaz, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Nils Muiznieks, noted video reports of summary expulsions from Ceuta to Morocco on June 4 and 18. He referred to comments he made to the ECHR in November 2015 about “an established practice” of summary expulsions to Morocco from Melilla. Muiznieks expressed concern that an amendment to the Aliens Act sought to provide a “legal underpinning” in Ceuta and Melilla for these actions.
Potential asylum seekers were able effectively to exercise their right to petition authorities. During the year authorities granted political asylum to two gay Moroccan citizens.
Safe Country of Origin/Transit: Under EU law the country considers all other countries in the Schengen area, the EU, and the United States to be safe countries of origin. The government suspended the application of the EU’s Dublin III regulation, by which asylum seekers who enter the country through other Schengen countries are liable for return to the country of first entry into the Schengen area under the EU’s Dublin III regulation.
Access to Basic Services: According to Amnesty International, the Center for the Temporary Accommodation of Migrants in Melilla was “severely overcrowded.” In Melilla asylum-seekers usually waited at least two months, or even several months in some cases, before being transferred to mainland Spain; in Ceuta the waiting period was longer, according to Amnesty International.
Almost 750,000 irregular migrants lived in the country without adequate access to health care.
Durable Solutions: The government accepted refugees for relocation and resettlement and provided protections with the assistance of NGOs such as the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance. In November 2015 the government agreed to relocate 15,888 refugees from Greece and Italy to the country by September 2017. The government also agreed to resettle 1,449 refugees from July 2015 to July 2017 as part of the EU-Turkish agreement.
The government assisted in the safe, voluntary return of failed asylum seekers and migrants to their homes.
Temporary Protection: The government also provided temporary protection to individuals who may not qualify as refugees and provided subsidiary protection to approximately 800 persons in 2015.
In 2015 the government granted stateless status to 1,151 individuals, most of whom were from the Tinduf Saharaui camps in Algeria. The law provides a path to citizenship for stateless persons.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented these laws effectively. Prosecutions and convictions for corruption were rare compared to the complaints filed, mainly because of the extensive system of legal appeals.
Corruption: In January the country’s anticorruption police detained former president of Valencia’s provincial authority Alfonso Rus and more than 20 other members of the Popular Party (PP) on charges of corruption, money laundering, prevarication, and fraud in an alleged municipal contracts for kickbacks scheme. As of September the investigation involved 47 current and former PP officials, including the former mayor of Valencia, current PP Senator Rita Barbera, and former vice president of the government of Valencia Gerardo Camps. Part of the “Taula” investigation, police also investigated allegations the Valencian branch of the PP funded itself illegally.
Financial Disclosure: Public officials are subject to financial disclosure laws and are required to publish their income and assets on publicly available websites each year. There are administrative sanctions for noncompliance. The Ministry of Finance and Public Administration is responsible for managing and enforcing the law regarding conflicts of interest.
Public Access to Information: The law mandates public access to government information. The government implemented the law effectively.