The death penalty in Spain
A dictionary of Spanish history and culture
The last judicial executions in Spain took place in September 1975 when three members of ETA and two members of FRAP were shot by firing squad. Three years later, the death penalty was banned by the Spanish Constitution of 1978. However, the clause banning capital punishment ended with a get-out clause for the military:
Everyone has the right to life and physical and moral integrity and in no case may be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment. The death penalty is abolished except in those cases which may be established by military penal law in times of war.
“Todos tienen derecho a la vida y a la integridad física y moral sin que, en ningún caso, puedan ser sometidos a tortura ni a penas o tratos inhumanos o degradantes. Queda abolida la pena de muerte, salvo lo que puedan disponer las leyes penales militares para tiempos de guerra.”
After a long-running and public campaign by Amnesty International, Spain for its total abolition, the Spanish Parliament finally banned capital punishment under all circumstances including war in 1995 (Ley Orgánica 11/1995, 27 November).
However, the clause (The death penalty is abolished except in those cases which may be established by military penal law in times of war) still remains in the Constitution.
Therefore, at present there is no death penalty in Spain, but a change of legislation could reintroduce it. A clause specifically inserted in the Constitution expressly prohibiting under all circumstances, including war, would be much more difficult to change.
For this reason AI believes that this clause should be removed and replaced by a clause expressly prohibiting capital punishment in times of war.
The death penalty during the Second Spanish Republic
The death penalty was briefly banned by the Second Republic from 1932 to 1934, when it was reintroduced for terrorism and banditry. Franco re-established fully as part of the penal code in 1938, not that this stopped it from executing tens of thousands beforehand.
- España y la pena de muerte (Amnistía Internacional)
- Brief history of the death penalty in Spain (Amnestia Internacional Catalunya)
- Spanish Constitution in English
Keywords:Capital punishment in Spain, last death penalty in spain, last execution in spain