Cablegate: Spain Unveils Comprehensive Human Rights Plan

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1. (U) SUMMARY. In conjunction with the 60th Anniversary of
the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Spanish Vice
President Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega unveiled Spain's
National Human Rights Plan (the plan) December 15 in New
York. The plan, approved by Spain's Council of Ministers
December 12, is the GOS answer to the 2002 UN call for
"National Human Rights Plans" and an instrument to coordinate
and evaluate the diverse actions being planned or implemented
by different GOS actors in promotion of human rights
domestically and abroad. The plan encompasses issues such as
promotion of human rights on the international stage,
combating trafficking in persons, and promotion of equality
with respect to religion, age, gender, race and ethnicity.

2. (U) Eight ministries participated in the drafting, which
began in 2007, with assistance from NGOs and human rights
experts. The plan consists of 172 measures, divided into a
Foreign Action Plan and Domestic Action Plan. The Foreign
Action Plan aims to promote human rights on an international
level, working through the UN, EU, Council of Europe, OSCE,
bilateral and multilateral relations, as well as the
International Criminal Court and other international
organizations. Some of the commitments include fulfillment
of UN Millennium Development Goals, ratification of various
international conventions, a promise to fight against the
death penalty and promote the prevention of torture,
comprehensive protection of terrorism victims, promotion of
the Alliance of Civilizations, implementation of the Integral
Plan to Fight Trafficking in Persons (TIP Plan) during
Spain's EU Presidency in 2010, active participation in the
Review Conference of the Rome Statute, incorporation of said
statute into the Spanish Penal Code, and active support for
the International Criminal Court.

3. (U) The Domestic Action Plan proposes new
non-discrimination legislation; a constitutional amendment to
allow non-EU legal residents the right to vote in municipal
elections; legislative changes to provide foreigners the
rights of assembly, association, education, trade union
membership and free legal assistance; commitments to
combating gender violence, to include informational campaigns
and the use of electronic devices to keep perpetrators away
from their victims; defense of the rights of Spanish citizens
abroad; extend detainees' legal guarantees, to include a
reduction in the number of hours a detainee can be held in
"incommunicado" status and the prohibition of incommunicado
detention of minors; the establishment of human rights
guarantees for migrants in holding centers; additional
protection of refugees; and environmental protections for

4. (U) An important measure in the Domestic Plan is the call
for reform of the Religious Freedom law which would grant all
"notorio arraigo" or religions with deeply-rooted status
equal status under the law. This would correct the inequity
that currently exists wherein Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses
and Buddhists, although designated as notorio arraigo, do not
have the tax benefits enjoyed by the Catholic Church. The
plan also calls for the creation of an observatory on
religious pluralism; studies on public management of
religious diversity at the local, autonomous and national
levels; and training of public servants on religious freedom

5. (U) A critical element in the Foreign Action Plan and the
initial impetus for creation of the comprehensive plan is the
Integral Plan to Fight Trafficking in Persons (TIP Plan).
The TIP Plan includes 61 measures aimed at raising social
awareness and implementing a zero tolerance policy against
human trafficking-related crimes. Some of the specific
changes called for in the TIP Plan include housing, medical
and psychological assistance, free legal assistance,
interpretation services and financial aid for victims of
trafficking; pre-sentencing confiscation of traffickers'
assets; creation of a fund with confiscated assets to assist
victims; construction of shelters and creation of units to
attend to trafficking victims; use of biometric identifiers
in visas and residency permits to deter fraudulent travel;
control mechanisms in ports, airports and other
transportation centers to assist in identifying potential
trafficking cases; informational and awareness campaigns; and
the creation of an inter-ministerial coordinating group to
implement the plan. The Zapatero administration allocated 44
million euros (approximately 63 millions USD) to finance the
TIP Plan through 2012.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The plan, described by the GOS as an
"ongoing process," must still be approved by the Spanish

MADRID 00001337 002.2 OF 002

Congress, likely to happen in 2009 as no parliamentary
opposition is expected. Approval of the ambitious plan,
however, is but one step in a long process. Most changes
called for require legislative or constitutional action or
amendment. Too, although monies have been budgeted for the
TIP portion of the Plan (44 million euros), the GOS has not
yet specifically budgeted for the other Foreign Action Plan
items or the Domestic Action Plan. Given the current
economic climate, this could prove challenging. Add to the
challenge obtaining the buy-in of autonomous communities and
city councils in the plan's implementation, considering the
territorial distribution of jurisdictions under Spanish law.
On the other hand, not only is the plan a personal priority
for VP Fernandez de la Vega, the plan also aims to cement a
seat for Spain on the 2010 UN Human Rights Council and
prepare the GOS for Spain's EU Presidency in January 2010
wherein human rights issues will be a priority. It is thus
an important priority for the Zapatero Administration, whose
commitment is to make the protection of human rights a
hallmark of Spain.

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