TOWARDS THE END OF ETA

Basque “peace plan” focuses on need to probe torture

Regional government lays out own scheme for reinsertion of ETA inmates and relaxation of jail policy

The Basque regional government has laid out its own plan for the reinsertion of ETA prisoners and the relaxation of penitentiary policy, areas under the remit of the central government. The peace plan, called Hitzeman (Basque for promise), was presented in Vitoria by regional premier Iñigo Urkullu on Tuesday. Its 18 initiatives were praised by the main opposition party, EH Bildu of the abertzale radical Basque left, for achieving the “difficult balance” between the desires of ETA prisoners and victims of terrorism.

Also included is a proposed scientific study into the alleged torture of ETA suspects. Spain has consistently refused to investigate claims of mistreatment and was reprimanded by the Council of Europe in April for not doing so.

First and foremost among the objectives in the 70-page document is the “disarmament and effective end” of ETA. The terrorist organization announced an end to violence in October 2011 but has yet to take the final step of disbanding, while Spain’s central government has offered little action on terrorist inmates.

Urkullu’s Basque Nationalist Party would also like to arrange a study into alleged cases of torture by the state and calls on the Ertzaintza regional police to adhere to a “commitment to democracy and human rights” with the aim of reinforcing these values in the security forces.

Urkullu’s proposals for ETA prisoners to be returned to society include those that wish to be part of the reinsertion program to sign a statement of intent to work toward “the definitive consolidation of peace.” Also included is the release of prisoners with illnesses, an end to the practice of dispersion — scattering ETA prisoners across Spain — and “common sense” measures concerning inmates serving sentences for illegalized political activity.

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