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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                        

Kingdom of Spain

In August the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Defend Those Who Defend reported it registered 70 cases of mistreatment of individuals by state security forces. The NGO Rights International Spain reported several cases of excessive use of force documented on video showing police slapping, shoving, or kicking individuals.

  [Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2020]

Description: Description: Spain

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Spain.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Spain

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 8 August 2021]


There were multiple reports of excess use of force by law enforcement during the government-decreed state of alarm from March 14 through June 20 enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In August the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Defend Those Who Defend reported it registered 70 cases of mistreatment of individuals by state security forces. The NGO Rights International Spain reported several cases of excessive use of force documented on video showing police slapping, shoving, or kicking individuals.

A video posted online in March by Amnesty International showed police officers in Bilbao shoving a young man of North African descent, hitting him with a baton, and later hitting and arresting his mother after she told the police he was suffering from poor mental health.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Prison conditions generally meet international standards, but short-term internment centers for irregular migrants suffer from overcrowding and other problems.

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Spain

Executive Summary, 4 February 2020

[accessed 31 May 2020]

Law enforcement agencies -- The vast majority of persons met by the CPT’s delegation stated that they had been treated correctly when detained by Mossos  d’Esquadra officers.  However,  the  delegation  once  again  received  a number of allegations of ill-treatment, consisting mainly of kicks and punches to the head and body and  blows  with  truncheons  to  the  body,  usually  at  the  moment  of  apprehension  after  the  persons concerned  had  been  brought  under  control. The CPT’s delegation also received a few specific allegations  from  inmates  interviewed  separately  that  they  had  been  beaten  with  truncheons  while subjected to an unauthorised means of restraint they referred to as the “bocadillo” (while restrained by the ankles, sandwiched between two plastic mattresses bound together by Velcro straps).The CPT recommends that the Catalan regional authorities  deliver a strong message that the ill-treatment of detained persons is illegal, unprofessional, and will be the subject of appropriate sanctions.

European Court of Human Rights Condemns Spain for Torturing Two Basques

Argia, 16 February 2018

[accessed 17 February 2018]

16 hours after having been arrested, Igor Portu had to be taken to the Intensive Care Unit at Donostia Hospital. He had a punctured lung, a broken rib, a haemorrhage in one eye and bruises all over his body: it was obvious that he had been tortured.

After being kept incommunicado for five days, Mattin Sarasola reported to a judge from the Spanish National Court that he, too, had been tortured.

Rodriguez has recalled the decisions which the European Court has taken against Spain in the past, seven in total, and stated that the Spanish High Court has covered up cases of torture, systematically turning a blind eye to such cases.

A report drawn up by the University of the Basque Country's Criminology Institute states that there were 4,113 proven cases of torture between 1960 and 2014.

23rd General Report of the CPT - European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - 1 August 2012 - 31 July 2013

Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 6 November 2013

[accessed 7 Nov 2013]

62. In the context of the incommunicado detention regime, 10 of the 11 persons met by the CPT’s delegation made credible and consistent allegations of ill-treatment by officers of the Guardia Civil following their arrest in early 2011.  The alleged ill-treatment consisted of kicks and blows with truncheons; in addition, the persons concerned alleged that a plastic bag had been placed over their heads inducing the sensation of asphyxiation and that, at the same time, they had been forced to perform prolonged physical exercises. The aim of the alleged ill-treatment was apparently to oblige them to sign a confession before the end of the incommunicado detention.

Spain: Civil Guards convicted of torture

Amnesty International AI, 10 January 2011, Index number: EUR 41/002/2011

Download from

[accessed 14 January 2019]

Amnesty International reiterates its call on Spain to abolish incommunicado detention without delay and to ensure prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture or other ill-treatment.

On 30 December 2010, the Criminal Court of Guipúzcoa convicted four members of the Civil Guard of torturing Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola, while they were in police custody under an incommunicado detention order on the morning of 6 January 2008. The Court sentenced the four Civil Guards  to  between  two  and  four  and  a  half  years’  imprisonment  for  torturing, insulting  and  threatening  to  kill  Igor  Portu  and  Mattin  Sarasola,  and  to  pay  them  a compensation of 24,000 Euros. The 11 other Civil Guards on trial were acquitted.

Igor Portu and  Mattin Sarasola had alleged ill-treatment by Civil Guards following their  arrest in  Mondragón  (Guipúzcoa)  on  suspicion  of  belonging  to the  armed  group  Euskadi  Ta Aaskatasuna (ETA). Subsequently, Igor Portu had been treated in San Sebastian hospital with two  broken  ribs  and  a  punctured  lung.  He claimed  that in  the  morning  of  6  January, Civil Guards  had  plunged  his  head  in  a  river several  times and  made  him  drink  the  water.  Mattin Sarasola  said  they  had  pointed  a  gun  at  his  head  and  beat  him  all  over  his  body. Igor  Portu and  Mattin  Sarasola claimed  they  were  also  ill-treated  during  their  detention  in  the  police station of Intxaurrondo later that day and their subsequent transfer to their homes for a house-search  and  then  to  San  Sebastian  Hospital  and  Madrid  respectively.  However,  the  Court rejected those allegations for lack of proof.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/CR/29/3 (2002)

[accessed 6 March 2013]

D. Subjects of concern

8. The Committee observes with concern the dichotomy between the assertion of the State party that, isolated cases apart, torture and ill-treatment do not occur in Spain (CAT/C/55/Add.5, para. 10) and the information received from non-governmental sources which reveals continued instances of torture and ill-treatment by the State security and police forces.

9. Of particular concern are the complaints concerning the treatment of immigrants, including sexual abuse and rape, allegedly on racist or xenophobic grounds. The Committee notes that Spain has become an important gateway to Europe for immigrants, and that this has meant a significant increase in the country's foreign population. In this context the omission from the definition of torture in article 174 of the Penal Code of torture "based on discrimination of any kind," notwithstanding the fact that, under the Code, racism is deemed to be an aggravating factor in any offence, takes on particular importance.

10. The Committee continues to be deeply concerned by the fact that incommunicado detention up to a maximum of five days has been maintained for specific categories of particularly serious offences. During this period, the detainee has no access to a lawyer or to a doctor of his choice nor is he able to notify his family. Although the State party explains that incommunicado detention does not involve the complete isolation of the detainee, who has access to an officially appointed lawyer and a forensic physician, the Committee considers that the incommunicado regime, regardless of the legal safeguards for its application, facilitates the commission of acts of torture and ill-treatment.

11. The Committee also expresses its concern at the following:

(a) The substantial delays attending legal investigations into complaints of torture, which may lead to convicted persons being pardoned or not serving their sentences owing to the length of time since the offence was committed. This further delays the realization of the rights of victims to moral and material compensation;

(b) The failure of the Administration, in some cases, to initiate disciplinary proceedings when criminal proceedings are in progress, pending the outcome of the latter. Delays in judicial proceedings may be such that, once criminal proceedings have concluded, disciplinary proceedings are time-barred;

(c) Cases of ill-treatment during enforced expulsion from the country, particularly in the case of unaccompanied minors;

(d) The severe conditions of imprisonment of some of the prisoners whose names appear on the list of inmates under close observation (FIES). According to information received, prisoners under level one of the close observation regime have to remain in their cells for most of the day, and in some cases are allowed only two hours in the yard, are excluded from group, sports and work activities, and are subjected to extreme security measures. Generally speaking, it would seem that the physical conditions of imprisonment of these prisoners are at variance with prison methods aimed at their rehabilitation and could be considered prohibited treatment under article 16 of the Convention.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Demonstrations took place throughout the year in different cities including Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. There were frequent allegations of excessive use of force and of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials while dispersing crowds during the protests. In general, investigations into complaints were not thorough or effective; some were made impossible by the lack of identification tags on the uniforms of police alleged to have been involved.

Also in March, a Madrid court issued a decision not to admit a complaint lodged in 2011 by Angela Jaramillo, as the policewoman responsible for hitting her could not be identified. Angela Jaramillo was among several people who, despite their peaceful conduct during a demonstration in Madrid on 4 August 2011, were repeatedly hit with batons by police and required medical treatment. Angela Jaramillo died in June 2012 after suffering a heart attack.   On 11 July, a freelance journalist, Paloma Aznar, was hit by a rubber bullet and injured on the hip while covering miners’ demonstrations in Madrid. She was wearing her journalist tag with her camera round her neck. She reported that police were not wearing any visible identification and were shooting rubber bullets directly at the crowd after some demonstrators became violent. Video footage showed police using batons against people lying on the pavement and firing rubber bullets at close range.   On 25 September, during a demonstration in Madrid, unidentified police beat peaceful demonstrators with batons, fired rubber bullets at them, and threatened journalists covering the events – including inside Atocha train station. An internal investigation was reportedly opened on the police operation. Its results had not been made public at the end of the year.


On 27 February 2012, the Supreme Court acquitted former judge Baltasar Garzón of exceeding his authority. Baltasar Garzón was prosecuted, among other things, for violating the 1977 Amnesty Law by launching an investigation in 2008 into the enforced disappearances of 114,266 people between July 1936 and December 1951.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 14 January 2019]

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Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 1   Civil Liberties: 1   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 12 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. However, there have been concerns about the functioning of the judicial system, including the impact of media pressure on sensitive issues such as immigration and Basque terrorism. There have been reports of police abuse of prisoners, especially immigrants. Police can also hold suspects of certain terrorism-related crimes for up to five days with access only to a public lawyer. Prison conditions generally meet international standards.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 12 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, suspects charged with terrorism at times claimed that they were tortured and abused during detention.

The COE/CHR reported that "the NGOs I spoke to all agreed that torture and ill-treatment were not systematically practiced in Spain, although they expressed concern that complaints were not always systematically and effectively investigated." He further noted that "in spite of the persistent and violent terrorist attacks Spain has suffered since its transition to democracy 30 years ago…there has been no corresponding toughening of the legislation to curtail, restrict, or limit the rights of people detained for terrorist activities."

AI reported that in June 2004 an officer of the Catalan autonomous police was investigated for the alleged torture of a minor in a judicial inquiry in Lleida (Catalonia). Jordi Vilaseca Cantacorps was arrested in 2003 in connection with alleged acts of street violence and held incommunicado under antiterrorism legislation. He claimed he was forced to stand motionless for up to eight hours without food or water and then to kneel without moving for several hours more. Apparently exhausted and dehydrated, he collapsed and was taken to the hospital. On November 15, the newspaper El Pais reported that a judge ordered Vilaseca Cantacorps and two others to stand trial for using an explosive device to partially destroy the home of a political candidate in Tora, Spain, and for causing extensive damage to a television transmission tower in a suburb of Barcelona. There was no further mention of the outcome of the investigation nor any action taken against police for the alleged torture.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Spain",, [accessed <date>]