SPAIN: Children's Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review

Summary: A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the first Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholder's Information'. Also included is the final report and the list of accepted and rejected recommendations.


Spain - 8th Session - 2010
5th May, 9am to 12pm

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National Report
Compilation of UN information
Summary of Stakeholder information
Accepted and rejected recommendations


National Report

24. The three guiding principles of the Strategic Plan for Citizenship and Integration are the principles of equality, citizenship and multiculturalism. The measures included in the plan are divided into 12 areas: reception, education, employment, housing, social services, health, children’s and youth issues, women’s issues, equal treatment, participation, awareness-raising and co-development.

33. Each year an average of 110 projects are implemented, mostly managed by district councils in 15 autonomous communities, with a year-on-year average (2004–2008) of €6,583,305 in co-funding by the three administrations. Total funding over this five-year period was €32,422,963. In 2009, 93 projects were co-funded to the tune of €1,065,160. In this area, the Ministry of Health and Social Policy grants an annual subsidy to an average of 130 projects managed by 20 NGOs in 65 localities, with a year-on-year average (2004– 2008) of €3,728,186.76. Total funding over the above-mentioned five-year period amounted to €18,640,928.82. Priority is given to the following programmes: training and employment programmes; training programmes for mediators; comprehensive social programmes; programmes and services to promote children’s education and mandatory schooling; programmes to encourage students to stay on in secondary and further education; literacy and social skills programmes for Gypsy women; and prevention and health education programmes for Gypsy women. In 2009, 132 projects managed by 23 NGOs were funded in 70 localities, with a total funding of €6,009,269.

35. The State Council of the Gypsy People, a State-level body, was established in 2005 (Royal Decree No. 891/2005 of 22 July, on the creation and regulation of the State Council of the Gypsy People) and formally founded on 20 June 2006 with the aim of establishing the conditions required for the effective participation of the Gypsy population. It is currently attached to the Directorate-General for Social Policy, Families and Children under the Ministry of Health and Social Policy. Notable in the area of culture is the creation of the Gypsy Cultural Institute, a foundation attached to the Spanish Ministry of Culture.

52. The legal basis for the protection of children lies in Organization Act No. 1/1996 of 15 January, on the legal protection of minors and partial amendment of the Civil Code and the Civil Proceedings Act, as supplemented by a series of standards and initiatives including the National Strategic Plan for Children and Adolescents (2006–2009). This plan aims to promote a culture of cooperation between public and private institutions involved in promoting and defending children, with a view to enhancing policies affecting children, promoting greater awareness of the rights, interests and needs of children, and striving to reduce situations of exclusion, lack of opportunity, inequality and a lack of meaningful participation in society. The vision behind the plan is that it should cut across and interact with all autonomous communities and local authorities. This factor is key to the financial resources invested in this area, which are shared between the central, regional and local levels and have risen from €20.9 million in 2002 to €37.4 million in 2007. The plan is currently being reviewed as part of the process of defining a new multi-year national strategic plan for children and adolescents. Children’s Watch adopted the Second Plan to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, which is also being reviewed as part of the process of preparing the new plan. Also worthy of note is Act No. 54/2007 on intercountry adoption, which is defined therein as a measure intended to protect minors by ensuring that any measures taken are in the best interests of the child.

67. In this context, Spain makes great efforts to maintain the highest standards of social security benefits such as medical insurance, unemployment insurance, and disability and retirement pensions. Sustained and growing budgetary efforts have also been made to provide other benefits such as student scholarships, child benefits and housing subsidies. It should also be noted that Spain’s public health and education systems are universal, free and of a high standard.

69. Right to education: The right to education is governed by the Education Act (No. 2/2006), which ensures the consistency of the system across the autonomous communities to which responsibility for education is devolved. Schooling is currently compulsory up to age 16. To promote the enrolment of children from all families, “Educa” plans (the current plan is “Educa3”) have been developed in an attempt to help families combine education with employment commitments and to respond to the growing demand for school places for children under the age of 3. In the latest Education for All Global Monitoring Report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Spain ranks third for school enrolment and sixth for survival rate to grade 5, with an Education For All Development Index (EDI) in which Spain is in seventeenth place (tied with the countries ranked fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth).

83. For the Spanish Government, the protection of the rights of the child is a key goal of both its domestic and foreign policies, as reflected in the Human Rights Plan and promoted in bilateral talks on human rights. As a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the optional protocols thereto (on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict), Spain has submitted the relevant periodic reports and welcomes the recommendations related to them.

UN Compilation

10. CRC welcomed the establishment of a cross-sectoral Child Rights Observatory. It noted, however, that cooperation between the central administration and the autonomous  communities remains insufficient.24

44. CRC noted with concern the high rate of truancy, school drop-out and the difficult school integration of Roma children, children belonging to migrant families or children living in socio-economically deprived areas, and also noted that some children belonging to migrant families, particularly girls, do not complete compulsory education or have great difficulties in attending school.103

53. CRC was concerned that the identification of children who may have been recruited or used in hostilities prior to arrival in Spain was inadequate and could result in a breach of the principle of non-refoulement.129 Furthermore, it regretted that asylum-seeking children who have been recruited or used in armed conflict are poorly informed about the asylum process and have insufficient access to specialized professionals who can provide multidisciplinary assistance.130 UNHCR expressed similar concerns.131

60. CRC noted with appreciation the State’s contributions to projects for the rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers in countries experiencing conflict or in post-conflict situations.143 It recommended that Spain consider introducing a specific prohibition with respect to the sale of arms when the final destination is a country where children are known to be - or may potentially be - recruited or used in hostilities.144

64. CEDAW requested the State to provide, within two years, written information on steps taken to implement the recommendation contained in paragraphs 22 (trafficking in women and children) and 26 (contraception and sexually transmitted diseases).

Stakeholder Compilation

15. The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) indicated that the Government announced in its 2008 Human Rights Plan that it would introduce measures to prohibit incommunicado detention for minors, to adopt measures to record by video or other audio-visual means for the entirety of the stay in police detention facilities; and to allow for detainees to be visited by an additional doctor appointed by the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture. ICJ noted that proposals for reform are not sufficient to provide full protection.

17. According to the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV), despite the criminalization of domestic violence and setting up of special courts, and the setting of heavy sentences for those who commit these crimes, the Government is still facing serious problems to address this challenge. The Joint Submission by Creación Positiva y la Iniciativa por los Derechos Humanos (JS1) mentioned that the regulation of gender violence, established as part of the 1/2004 Organic Law, does not sufficiently address human trafficking, exploitation and prostitution, genital mutilation, or preventative measures and the diagnosis of sexual violence. Amnesty International (AI) expressed concern about the lack of implementation of some of the provisions of the law on Comprehensive Protection Measures to Tackle Gender-Based Violence, which leaves many women at risk. AI recommended ensuring that all victims of gender-based violence, including irregular migrants, have effective access to legal assistance and protection measures. It also recommended a national plan to combat violence against women and girls.

19. AI noted that human trafficking, which affects women and girls in particular, continues to be addressed as a public order and migration issue. It noted that legislation does not include a definition of trafficking in line with international law, and that the 2009- 2012 Integrated Plan against Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation does not establish a mechanism to ensure correct identification of victims but only provides for a comprehensive support for victims who collaborate with the authorities and does not contain specific measures for minors .

27. JS1 highlighted that in relation to gender reassignment surgery, the patient should legally be of age in order to register under a new name and undergo any other type of operation.

36. The ombudsperson emphasised several issues related to education: that it is important that authorities offer a sufficient number of places in school for children under the age of three, in order to satisfy the demand for places and fulfil the legal prescriptions that are currently in force. Additionally, the ombudsperson emphasised the importance of keeping education free until the age of six. Also, in many educational institutions, there is insufficient assistance for students with special educational needs.

37. JS1 asked for issues of gender, sexuality, sexual rights, HIV and sexual violence to be incorporated to the school curriculum.

39. CoE ECRI1 noted that human rights education was not imparted in schools as a separate subject, but constituted a cross-cutting theme reflected in all disciplines. CoE ECRI recommended that the Spanish authorities strengthen the human rights component of the curriculum and that they consider, in the longer term, making human rights a specific compulsory subject.

41. The ombudsperson emphasised the need to moderate the focus on security in relation to immigration, in order to promote a more social and humanitarian focus. During visits in 2008 to installations that provide first aid to migrants who have arrived irregularly by boat and to emergency centres that provide shelter to unaccompanied minors, the ombudsperson noted that there had been an improvement of the installations in southern Tenerife, but there were serious anomalies in other centres on the island of Grand Canary. The ombudsperson also expressed his opposition against the practice of writing an identification number on the clothes of interns at the Internment Centre of Barranco Seco in Las Palmas, given that it represents an affront on the dignity of the interns. The ombudsperson expressed the need for Spanish authorities to find out the exact age of persons staying in shelters in order to assign the most adequate form of tutelage.

43. JS32 mentioned that current immigration laws promote equality among Spanish and foreign citizens in terms of shared rights. However, both the regulatory implementation of statutes and the reform currently taking place contradict this principle. JS3 mentioned that immigrants do not enjoy freedom of movement and residency in view of the fact that work and recidency permits are limited within provinces. AI noted that restrictions on access to the municipal register and expiration of registration included in the Law on Aliens create serious obstacles for migrants in enjoying their right to education, health and accessing other social services.

46. AI expressed concern at the expulsion of unaccompanied minors under “family reunification” measures which do not follow due legal process and do not take into account the minor’s family situation. Eleven judicial decisions in 2007 recorded irregularities in the expulsion of minors. AI recommended ensuring that all measures taken in relation to unaccompanied minors be in line with national and international law.

51. The Organizations for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV) pointed out the strengthening of existing education policies and programmes; independence and unbiased press and media; guaranteeing gender equality and adoption of special measures for the realization of non-discrimination in favour of women; attention towards financial and economic crises and; conformation of the Constitution and domestic laws with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international human rights instruments.

Accepted and Rejected Recommendations

The following recommendations were accepted by Spain:

84. A - 2. Adopt further measures to provide members of the police, prison and judicial staff with human rights training with specifically focused on protection of human rights of women, children, ethnic or national minorities, and also of persons of minority sexual orientation or gender identity (Czech Republic);

A - 3. Adopt specific measures to ensure the protection of the human rights of children of persons in detention or prison and to improve access to education for children with disabilities (Czech Republic);

A - 10. Pursue its efforts to combat the persistence of traditional stereotypes regarding the role and responsibilities of women and men, namely by planning awareness-raising campaigns for the media and focused programmes in the education system (France);

A - 25. Continue its untiring efforts against the execution of the death penalty; and wishes Spain success with the Prime Minister's initiative which is aimed at achieving the immediate abolition of the death penalty for minors and persons with disabilities, and at achieving a global moratorium by 2015 (Bulgaria);

A - 41. Bring the definition of trafficking in its legislation into line with international law; establish better processes to identify victims; and address the special needs of child victims (New Zealand);

A - 47. Redouble its efforts to continue to incorporate into its educational system, at all levels, respect for human rights, especially those related to non-discrimination and tolerance for diversity (Nicaragua);

A - 48. Strengthen the human rights component in school curriculums and education programmes for the public, with special focus on women's rights (Republic of Korea);

A - 49. Continue to address the issue of unaccompanied children arriving in Spanish territories and to consider implementing, as appropriate, the recommendations of UNHCR, human rights treaty bodies and special procedures (Jordan);

A - 50. Strengthen national and local initiatives aimed at protecting and promoting the universal human rights of all migrants and members of their families (Philippines);

A - 54. Take all measures necessary to ensure that actions related to unaccompanied minors (migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, victims of trafficking) are in line with international standards (Uruguay);

85. A - 14. Adopt educational measures, from childhood, to foster social rejection of violence against women and children and encourage the use of complaints against such cases (Portugal);

A - 20. Ensure the effective enjoyment of the right to education, the right to work and the right to health for members of ethnic minorities and migrants (Cuba);

A - 21. Promote and carry out comprehensive education and training in human rights in the Spanish education system and in programmes for public employees, armed forces and military personnel at every level (Costa Rica);

A - 22. Enact human rights education programmes targeted at fighting racism, xenophobia, and discrimination and violence against women (Philippines);

A - 27. Take all appropriate measures that serve the interests of the welfare and development of child migrants, who should have been guaranteed all rights provided for in national legislation and international law (Belarus);

The following recommendations were rejected by Spain:

87. R - 8. Continue developing awareness-raising measures in educational policies in fighting gender- based violence in order to tackle the deeply rooted stereotypes vis-àvis women (Austria);

R - 9. Adopt a national plan of action to combat violence against women and girls and to ensure that all victims of gender-based violence have effective access to legal assistance and protection measures (Islamic Republic of Iran);

R - 10. Consider instigating a national plan to combat violence against women and girls, including in relation to human trafficking (Denmark);

R - 12. Establish a mechanism guaranteeing the correct identification of victims of the trafficking in persons and provide them with adequate and comprehensive support, especially in the case of minors (Bolivia);

R - 13. Consider the establishment of a national mechanism for the correct identification of victims of sexual exploitation, as well as the possibility of including specific measures for minors (Panama);

R - 14. Establish a national mechanism to identify all victims and take necessary measures to ensure access to the asylum procedure for foreign women who are victims of trafficking, or at the risk of being trafficked, who can show a need for international protection, as recommended by CEDAW, CRC, and the CESCR, in light of the serious efforts made by the Government of Spain to adopt a Plan to Combat Human Trafficking for the Purposes of Sexual Exploitation (Israel);

The following recommendations are pending by Spain:

86. P - 14. Consider introducing a specific prohibition with respect to the sale of arms when the final destination is a country where children may potentially be recruited or used in hostilities (Slovenia);

P - 23. Respond to all recommendations set out in the report of the Ombudsman relating to the protection of the interests of minors having behavioural problems and in difficult social situations; pay more specific attention to the rights of such minors to have appropriate educational and medical support; and effectively implement an internal common regulation and an efficient inspection system in centres to prevent and combat abuse (Belgium);

P - 25. Strengthen the policy of promoting children rights, with special attention to the trafficking in women and children, and consider the implementation of the Guidelines for the Appropriate Use and Conditions of Alternative Care for Children, in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 11/7 and General Assembly resolution 64/142 (Brazil);

P - 27. Ensure school integration of Roma children, children belonging to immigrant families or children living in socio-economically deprived areas, as expressed by CEDAW, and increase Roma women's awareness and access to services and programmes in education, employment and healthcare, as recommended by CERD, CESCR, and the CRC (Israel);

P - 34. Implement the National Ombudsman's call for authorities to ascertain the age of younger immigrants, so that the most appropriate protection can be arranged (United States of America).



Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.