Wednesday 12/8/21
DEMOCRATIC MEMORY

Government promotes reform to judge Franco's crimes against humanity

The agreement also stipulates that the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caidos) will regain its old name of Valle de Cuelgamuros
10/05/2021. The Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory, Félix Bolaños, appeared in the Moncloa press room after the meeting of the Council of Ministers. Photo: La Moncloa.
The Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory, Félix Bolaños. Photo: La Moncloa/File photo.

The center-left Spanish government formed by PSOE and Unidas Podemos has registered an amendment to the bill of the Democratic Memory Bill that Parliament is processing. If approved, the rule could allow the crimes of Franco to be judged.

According to the newspaper El Pais, the new regulation seeks a formula to avoid the provisions of the Amnesty Law (Ley de Amnistia) approved in 1977 without repealing it, through a different interpretation that would end impunity for Francoist crimes.

The agreement also stipulates that the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caidos), the monumental basilica carved out of the rock by republican prisoners that served as Franco's mausoleum until his exumation and transfer to a cemetery two years ago, regain its old name of Valle de Cuelgamuros.

The agreement was reached three days before 20 November, the anniversary of the death of Spain's last dictator Francisco Franco, who passed away in 1975.

The amendment is simple, it literally says that in the future:

“All the laws of the Spanish State, including Law 46/1977 of 15 October on Amnesty, will be interpreted and applied in accordance with conventional and customary international law and, in in particular, with International Humanitarian Law, according to which crimes of war, crimes against humanity, genocide and torture are considered imprescriptible and non-amnestiable.

Prosecution

This change in interpretation would make it possible for the crimes of the Franco regime to be prosecuted in the Spanish justice system. Until now, any attempt to do so collided with the 1977 Amnesty Law.

The real effects of the amendment would be rather symbolic and moral than practical, because most of the alleged criminals of the dictatorship have already died.

However, the promoters and victims' groups believe that it is important because it would allow to change the interpretation that the courts have made of these cases until now, refusing to prosecute the human rights violations committed by the leaders of the Franco regime.

The bill also includes the prohibition of publicly displaying portraits or other artistic representations of people linked to Franco's repression. And it establishes the revocation of decorations, honorary distinctions and titles of nobility granted by the Franco regime.

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