Road to Impunity: The Absence of Transitional Justice Programs in Spain Articles uri icon

publication date

  • February 2014

start page

  • 123

end page

  • 146


  • 1


  • 36

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0275-0392

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1085-794X


  • This article analyzes the ongoing process of recovering Spain's historical memory and building a transitional justice agenda to end the impunity of crimes against humanity committed during the Francoist dictatorship. Over thirty years after the transition to democracy, based on an agreement to silence and forget, a social movement that challenges the narrative of successful democratization has interrupted Spain's political landscape. Victim associations, relatives, and citizens who support the recovery of historical memory have generated a debate about how to deal with the dictatorial past. In 2007, the Spanish Parliament passed the Historical Memory Act to recognize and enhance victims' rights. However, victims and victim associations criticized the Act severely due to the absence of mechanisms that guarantee the implementation of a transitional justice agenda, including a failure to investigate the past or create a truth commission. In the wake of a 2012 Spanish Supreme Court decision, which asserts that it is legally impossible to conduct a judicial investigation into the crimes committed during the Francoist dictatorship, it appears that Spain is now further than ever from achieving this goal.