Catalan law to help identify Civil War graves

26th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

If approved, measures will provide financial support for exhumations

26 March 2008

BARCELONA - The Catalan regional government has approved a draft law that would permit the location and identification of graves containing those killed while fighting in the Civil War or as a result of persecution during the Franco dictatorship. The bill comes after Congress passed the Historical Memory Law in November of last year, which aims to provide redress for the same victims.

It is thought that there are some 170 mass graves in Catalonia, the majority of which contain unknown soldiers. Under the proposed law, experts will study requests from families of those killed in the war and the ensuing Franco era and decide whether or not the graves should be opened and the bodies exhumed. Under the plan, the regional government will assume the cost of the work involved - estimated at between EUR 40,000 and EUR 50,000 per exhumation.

According to the government, the main objective of the text is to "recognise the dignity of those who disappeared, exercise the families' right to obtain information about where their relatives ended up, and, if appropriate, recover their remains."

The law, which is expected to be passed by the regional parliament after the summer, would allow for the Catalan government to temporarily occupy any private land containing one of the graves. It will not, however, allow for the expropriation of such land.

Since 2003, the Catalan government has received a total of 2,161 requests from families for information regarding where relatives died and where they were buried. So far, 300 cases have seen successful locations of the graves in question.

[Copyright El Pais 2008]

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