SPAIN is set to establish a truth commission into crimes committed during the country’s civil war and Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, the Justice Ministry announced on Wednesday.
The new Socialist Party administration will take on responsibility for the search for those who disappeared under Franco’s rule with many believed to be buried in mass graves.
The government will create an official census of victims of the 1936-1939 Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship, which ended with Franco’s death in 1975.
Officials are also considering measures to ban organisations that “glorify” the military dictator, including the controversial Franco Foundation, and removing symbols including streets named after those linked to the period.
It is seen as a historic step for the country which has largely swept aside the atrocities committed during the Franco era under an unofficial “pact of silence.”
Judge Baltasar Garzon had opened investigations into crimes committed during Franco’s rule. But he was disbarred for 11 years in 2012 following a wire-tapping scandal, in what was branded a “politically motivated” decision.
Former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy slashed government funding to victims’ associations who were searching for the mass graves of those killed leaving them reliant on donations and grants from international trade unions and other organisations.
However Justice Minister Dolores Delgado said "historical memory" was one of the government’s seven priorities with more than 1,200 mass graves still unopened.
Ms Delgado told the Spanish Congress: “It is not acceptable that people who are over 90 years old are in despair thinking that they will never recover their parents’ remains, or are faced with a ‘no’ from a judge or an arbitrary decision made by a local government.
“It is unacceptable for Spain to continue to be the second country after Cambodia with the largest number of missing people.”
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