The victimization of impunity


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Victims of terrorism are constantly exposed to what is known as second victimization or revictimization. This process causes added pain to the victims and can occur for various reasons: inadequate care, when learning that the murderer of their relative has been transferred from a prison to be closer to their own, the news of a new terrorist attack , or the subject that I would like to focus on this time: generating false hope.

Recently, the victims of terrorism have learned through the media the news that the European Parliament will send its mission to Spain in November to clarify the more than 300 unsolved ETA murders. Read as is, it may seem like great news … But have you really stopped to think about the false hopes that such a headline can generate in the hundreds of families involved in these cases? Our experience as an association -which is not small, since this year we are celebrating 40 years of work for and with the victims of terrorism-, has shown us the negative effects that it has on the victims, generating false expectations, especially regarding the justice is concerned. Hence, we must be extremely rigorous with this issue, because behind that number of unsolved cases there are families broken by pain that does not prescribe. Because behind each unsolved case there is a family that has not managed to close its grief due to the lack of justice.

I myself am the victim of an unsolved case. On October 4, 1976, my father was assassinated along with his three bodyguards and the driver of his official car. Hours later, ETA claimed responsibility for the attack, which it called “execution”, against my father and his “guard dogs.” The Amnesty of ’77 made me not know who my father’s murderers are, who have not been tried or convicted. Like me, the almost 40% of the victims of terrorism who have not been able to see their right to justice satisfied, would like to know who murdered their relative, who ordered it and why.

There are several reasons why these cases remain unclear: the aforementioned Amnesty, the disguised pardons after the negotiation processes undertaken with ETA politico-military, and the lack of specialization and the lack of means of the security forces over the years 70-80, are some of them. We believe that no specific government can be held responsible for this situation, just as no government can hang a medal for its resolution.

When we demand justice, we demand that all possible means be used to identify, prosecute and convict those responsible for the murders of our loved ones. This corresponds to the State Security Forces and Bodies, to the judges and prosecutors. Since our founding in 1981, and more intensely in the last ten years, our attorneys have contributed their bit in this role. But it is not up to any European delegation, which will not solve anything at all and which, at best, will be able to analyze the causes of this level of impunity.

Since the number of cases pending clarification was presented in 2011, 14 have been resolved, almost a hundred cases have been reopened at the request of the prosecution and the victims, and almost 200 reports have been made by the FCSE. For them our gratitude for this work. For those cases in which the passage of time and the dreaded prescription make it impossible to do justice, the right to the truth of the victims of terrorism plays a fundamental role, something that together with the review of these cases and the analysis of the causes of this impunity, are a priority for AVT. Victims of terrorism cannot be taken for granted that the European Parliament’s mission will clarify in three months something that has not been achieved in many years. But what can be assured is that, at least from the AVT, we will continue to fight tirelessly for the right to truth and justice for each and every one of the victims of terrorism.

Maite Araluce is the president of the Association of Victims of Terrorism

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