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The president of the Committee Against Torture requests more guarantees from Madrid

Mikel JAUREGI | 16.06.2004 13:39 | Repression | World

The new President of the U.N Committee against Torture, the Spanish professor Fernando Mariño Menéndez, declared that the Spanish State ought to accept the recommendations put together by the U.N Special Secretary for the eradication of the ill-treatment of detainees. Mariño, who was elected to the position on May 3rd, in comments to France Press, stated that Spanish Authorities ought to ‘limit' the holding of detainees incommunicado, interrogations should be recorded, medical checks should be rigorous, the detainee should be visited by a doctor of confidence and “humanitarian criteria should prevail” in prison policy.


The president of the U.N Committee against Torture (CAT), the Spanish professor Fernando Mariño Menéndez, declared that the Spanish State ought to accept the recommendations of Theo van Boven, the Special Secretary of the Commission of Human Rights. The measures proposed by the Dutch lawyer were rejected by the PP government, who even tried to take away from his authority when he presented his report about his visit to Euskal Herria and the Spanish State in the Assembly of the U.N Commission on Human Rights.

“Requesting that the interrogations of detainees be recorded on video, that time limits are put on the period one can be held incommunicado, that medical check-ups are rigorous and that humanitarian criteria prevail in the choice of prison for the inmate and that it be as close as possible to family are almost typical recommendations of the U.N”, Mariño Menéndez told the France Press agency who was elected to the post in May 3rd.

In arguing his position in favour of the Spanish Government taking into consideration the ten measures proposed by the Special Secretary Against Torture, he stated that “on a personal level I believe that Spain should accept them because they protect the police from false accusations and the person being interrogated from being mistreatment”.

The new president of the Committee Against Torture, a professor in the Carlos III University in Madrid, is the first Spanish person to receive such a position since the founding of the United Nations. He emphasised that “it is desirable that there is a medical report when the detainee is taken into custody and later on as often as it is necessary, and that the detainee can name a doctor that can examine him in addition to the police doctor”.

The UN Committee Against Torture is a body made up of ten international experts that observe to see if the Convention Against Torture, ratified by a total of 135 states, is being fulfilled.

Iñigo Elkoro, lawyer and representative of Torturaren Aurkako Taldea, referred to this body when he was evaluating the statements of Fernando Mariño Menéndez. “With regard to torture and ill-treatment the U.N Committee Against Torture is the most important body that exists on an international level”, he stated to GARA.

“The CAT is in charge of ensuring that the Convention Against Torture, which is signed by the majority of States, is fulfilled. Therefore, this is an internationally recognised authority in this area”.

Elkoro recalled that it isn't the first time that the Committee Against Torture has directed themselves to the Spanish authorities “to express to them their preoccupation for the treatment received by detainees in police custody and even urged them to drop the policy of holding detainees incommunicado. The Committee has stated more than once to the Spanish State that holding detainees incommunicado involves a risk that ill-treatment may occur”.

In the opinion of that member of TAT, Mariño Menéndez's comments “are very interesting, very positive”, although he didn't place any importance of the fact that it was a Spanish citizen. “The Committee has already made similar statements on numerous other occasions”.

He recalled the fact that the PP government ignored those statements and said that he hoped that the “Zapatero Executive will take them into account”.

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