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Victims: truth, justice and reparation

This is an article written jointly by Jon Landa, Sabino Ormazábal and myself back in June 2012, representing the Argituz Human Rights Association. It is basically an assessment of the first “Decree of Declaration and Reparation of Victims of Unfair Suffering as a consequence of the Infringement of their Human Rights that took place between 1960 and 1978 in the context of politically-motivated violence suffered in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country“. In the article we analyzed this Decree approved by the Basque Government basing our analysis on International Law on victims of human rights violations. We recognized its strong points, like the fact that it meant a door was being opened to reparation, to returning their dignity and to closing wounds, but we also underlined its defects, like the lack of independence of the Assessment Commission, the absence of mechanisms of investigation and the discrimination with other victims. It was a first step in the reparation of certain victims that had, until then, been completely ignored. There is still a lot of work to be done to get to what we would consider full recognition, but we are going in the right direction …   

Here is a small part of the article:

“It is hardly possible that the international doctrine in human rights could propose, as this Decree does, indemnities for victims of the State Security Forces that are far from those established for a person that is a victim of similar human rights abuse that qualifies under the legislation on victims of terrorism. That is to say, depending on who the perpetrators are, you are entitled to one indemnity or another. And there is also discrimination when the proposal is that victims of permanent invalidating injuries are to be compensated following the scale used for accidents and professional illnesses. One cannot apply a scale created for accidents to repair an intentional crime like torture, which is intended by nature. This criterion we share with organizations like Amnesty International. It does also not recognize a series of rights that are recognized for other victims during the same period, protected by other decrees, and who have access to all kinds of help such as psychological and psychiatrical care, urgent medical assistance and a complementary assistance to that foreseen in the general system, indemnities for material damages, priority assignment of housing, financial aid for studies or priority in access to public employment. It also limits the “unfair sufferings” that can be compensated, excluding psychological suffering. Besides, it places the burden of proof on the person, who can almost never demonstrate crimes such as torture, as they were not investigated at the time because of the hindering stance of the State and the judicial system.

I shall be translating this article in full into English in due course. When I finally get to do so, I will place the translation here. In the meantime, you can read the article in its full original version in the links below.

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