Between symbolism and real justice: law on historical memory in Spain

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Vilela, Maitane
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The aim of this paper is to evaluate the Law on Historical Memory in Spain from the point of view of the instruments the law offers for the victims to achieve reparation. After almost seventy years since the Civil War started, the silence of the Spaniards about the crimes of the past, that has characterised its transition to democracy, has been definitively broken with the adoption of the Law on Historical Memory. However, in this research it will be argued that the Law on Historical Memory is more a symbolic step than a real transitional justice mechanism. This paper is based on academic debates about the compliance of the Law on Historical Memory with international standards and with the demands of the civil society. These two elements are here the criteria to assess the possibilities of prosecuting the crimes of the past and the administrative measures adopted by the referred law. This paper will put special attention on the ongoing debates that are placing Spain in the centre of attention of the international community regarding the attempts to bring the crimes of the Civil War and the Dictatorship before the Courts and the validity of the 1977 Amnesty Law.
Second semester University: Utrecht University
civil war, Spain, history, human rights, impunity, international law, memory, transitional justice