Letter to the Prime Minister of Spain

Dear Prime Minister – at least we finally have one, 

The road from here to where we want to be is tortuous and difficult, both for civil society and for the government. This year Innovation and Human Rights, a not-for-profit NGO,  has grown and extended its work: our centralised online database of victims of the Civil War and the Franco Regime  now has over 700,000 case-files, all of them supported and referenced to archives and academic research. This has been done without the support of any government agency.  

We are appalled by the difficulties experienced by the families of those people who disappeared or were otherwise subject to retaliation during this period when they seek information.  Therefore, our database provides access to almost half a million named case-files from the military judicial proceedings held between 1936 and 1975 as well as 130,000 files of people who were held in Disciplinary Labour Battalions as well as case-files from other sources.

 What we are asking for in 2020 is political courage:

  • To unblock the Congressional initiative which sought to reform the Official Secrets Law of September 1968 and to introduce the practice of automatically declassifying official documents after a maximum of 50 years, as is the case most other European countries. Or alternatively we call for the drafting and introduction of a specific Law on Archives.
  • To provide all of the archives with the human and financial resources necessary for them to provide a catalogue and description of the archive material dealing with the Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship which is still not accessible. 
  • To facilitate and to make public permission for the re-use of the databases and the descriptive material from the archives on the repression, especially those held by the Sub-Directorate of State Archives
  • To remove all the obstacles to access to official documents, especially historical documents, which have, for decades, faced people who have wanted to conduct research into the Civil War and the Franco Regime. In this case, the right of access to material should prevail over the right to protection of personal data, which is what the law currently establishes. 
  • To close the foundations which hold the documents of all the former Heads of State and Heads of Government and to include this documentation in the public archives.

In the coming year we plan to continue working to enhance the protection of fundamental human rights, especially the right of access to public information, and we trust that your government will do the same.

We look forward to receiving your reply. Best wishes,