Privatising the search and identification of human remains: the case of Spain

Human Remains and Violence, Volume 1, No. 1 (2015), pp. 57-74
Patricio Galella
Publication Year
Europe and Central Asia
Thematic Area
Families / Forensics / Law & Policies / The Search Process
Burial Site / Mass Grave / Family Needs / Identification / Recovery of remains / Excavation / Exhumation / Reparation / Right to Know/Truth
Open access

During the Spanish Civil War, extrajudicial executions and disappearances of political opponents took place and their corpses were buried in unregistered mass graves. The absence of an official policy by successive democratic governments aimed at the investigation of these cases, the identification and exhumation of mass graves, together with legal obstacles, have prevented the victims families from obtaining reparation, locating and recovering the human remains. This paper argues that this state of affairs is incompatible with international human rights law and Spain should actively engage in the search for the whereabouts and identification of the bodies with all the available resources.