Although more than ten years have passed since the Spanish state approved the European and UN treaties on torture and other degrading punishments or treatments, it is still necessary to make known those cases of ill-treatment and torture in a country like our own that has signed these treaties. The reports published here include those cases of ill-treatment and torture of which ACT is aware, all of them backed by objective criteria, such as formal accusations in the courts, medical reports, witnesses' testimonies, graphical reproduction, etc. However, and despite the large number of cases, they do not include all of the cases of ill-treatment and torture in the Spanish state. Many of those reported we do not hear about, and others either never reached the courts, a requisite for inclusion here on these pages, or the victim of the aggression has requested that they not be included here or in other publications, so as not to publicise the case.
Behind these requests we almost always find a feeling of impotence and lack of confidence in the courts, or even a fear that an accusation will result in a legal case against the victim, which often results in a sentence after the counter accusation of the offending police or prison worker. The courts are more likely to follow up such a counter accusation than to accept any accusation against those police or prison workers who are responsible of attacks on the dignity and integrity of those persons in their custody.
At the same time, we see how Spanish society accepts the existence of torture as commonplace, not threatening of social coexistence, or even necessary on some occasions.
This attitude is motivated by the interested use of "social insecurity", demanding more and more a "hard line" in police activity, and by an increase in the discredit and stigmatisation of an increasing number of persons and social collectives (criminals, FIES's, prisoners in general, terrorists, drug dealers, gypsies, blacks, etc), and whose members, perhaps unconsciously but very efficiently, are denied the right to be considered as a citizen, as a human being, and who are described publicly by certain persons in office and by parts of the mass media as vermin, etc.
Once included in these groups, once their the right to be considered as a citizen, as a human being, is denied, the use of torture in the real sense on an arrested person, on a prisoner, a life imprisonment such as that imposed on the FIES prisoners, the beatings inflicted on the arrested by the police, the simple repression of social conflicts, etc, all these become no longer an ethical and legal problem, no longer news. Only the extraordinary cases give rise to concern in society.
For this reason, it happens that people who have never dreamed of having a problem with the police turn to the A.C.T. to ask for help after having suffered police aggression after a traffic accident or problem, etc. Their indignation at having been treated as "delinquents" is justified and healthy. Without saying so, they see it as logical and normal that an arrested person should be beaten- but not that a citizen who pays his/her taxes, who complies with his/her obligations, should be beaten in the same way.
These attitudes, but above all the lack of any really effective response on the part of the government to the existence of torture, the lack of political will to end the aggression against persons detained, or not, by members of the state security forces, the non-enforcement by the state of the international commitments and regulations in defence of human rights, all these justify the existence of the A.C.T, after 11 years of activity, and of other human rights organizations. They also justify the publication of reports such as these, as an expression of the right and civil obligation to control those rulers and civil servants whose activity lies outside the law, to call those in office to account for their governance, as was included in the International Declaration of the Rights of Man, two centuries ago in 1789.
These reports include new cases of mistreatment and torture from the corresponding year, together with other cases of torture which occurred in previous years and which, on following them up, one discovers that the judiciary, responsible for exercising the law, has, with honourable exceptions, not fulfilled this obligation by not acting as they should. Also described are the role of the forensic surgeons, the slowness of the legal system, the absence of any real, exhaustive legal investigation of the cases of torture denounced, etc.
For these reasons, we express our gratefulness once more to those
persons who, after having been victims of tortures or mistreatment and
despite all the difficulties and obstacles, have continued to defend
dignity and to exercise the right to control civil servants. It is they
who make our work possible, and they who, one day, will allow torture,
if not to disappear, at least to be a scourge in retreat in our society.