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News > World

Spain: Controversial Franco-Era Amnesty Law Turns 40

  • Members of the government applaud after the approval of the Amnesty Law in Madrid, in Oct. 1977.

    Members of the government applaud after the approval of the Amnesty Law in Madrid, in Oct. 1977. | Photo: EFE

Published 18 October 2017

The amnesty law makes it difficult for human rights crimes committed during the Franco dictatorship to be punished.

A law granting amnesty for perpetrators of human rights violations during Francisco Franco's dictatorship is turning 40 years old today and continues to remain in force, amid criticism by relatives of those disappeared and killed in the country.

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The political party Izquierda Unida and human rights organizations have presented several proposals to remove the law and create a Victims of Dictatorship Crimes law.

The Amnesty Law was enforced on Oct. 17, 1977 and was approved by a majority of lawmakers from the main parties in Spain. 

It was originally set up as an amnesty law for political prisoners but ended up protecting crimes and tortures committed during the Civil War and Franco's reign.

The legislation looks over "actions and omissions of political or social intentionality punished as a crime or failure by the regime from July 17, 1936 to June 15, 1977, and to declare null and void the corresponding penalties and sanctions of any kind imposed or can be imposed by the said facts."

It also outlines cases that fall under the category of amnesty and those responsible who won't be judged.

United Nations Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff said the effects of the law are incompatible with international treaties signed by Spain.

The official added that the main criticism surrounding the law is that it makes it difficult to investigate crimes and becomes an obstacle to justice.

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