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Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

b. Disappearance

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.

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.


There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

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.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future