HISTORY

Roma today

When the Catholic Monarchs begin to build their idea of the Spanish State, Roma were already present. Hence during these 600 years they have been members of the citizenry and helped to build this country comprised of countries, where different peoples with different nationalities and cultures coexist. Now, for the first time (!),no laws exist against the Romani ethnic minority, the Romani people. On the contrary, our laws have been corrected and a system of rules has been established that protects diversity and penalises racism.

The first correction was brought before the courts by the MP Juan de Dios Ramírez Heredia, who called for the annulment of Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the Civil Guard Regulation for being anti-Roma in nature. On 19 July 1978 the order to strike these articles was published. The order spoke of the principle of equality between all Spaniards and said that “any kind of discrimination between citizens based on sex, age, race or religion” should not be permitted.

A few months later, on 6 December 1978, the Spanish citizens ratified the Constitution by referendum. It includes the following:

Spanish Constitution

Preamble

“Protect all Spaniards and peoples of Spain in the exercise of human rights, their cultures and traditions, languages and institutions.”

Article 3 

“The wealth of Spain’s different language modalities is a cultural heritage which shall be the object of special respect and protection.”

Article 14

“Spaniards are equal before the law and may not in any way be discriminated against on account of birth, race, sex, religion, opinion or any other personal or social condition or circumstance.”

Article 19

“Spaniards have the right to choose their place of residence freely, and to move about freely throughout the country. Likewise, they have the right to freely enter and leave Spain subject to the conditions to be laid down by the law.”

Spanish Penal Code. Reforms (of Organic Law 8/1983):

(…) Among crimes that may be committed by individuals, and in view of individual rights recognised by Law, there is a recognition of the need for criminal law to contribute to guaranteeing the principle of equality between people, and to penalise certain discriminatory behaviours or those based on ethnicity, race, religion, or opinions related to political matters or trade unions. (…)

Article 137 bis

“Those whose purpose is to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic or religious group (…) will be sanctioned (…).”

Of particular noteworthiness is Ruling 1360/94 of 27 July 1994, issued by the Supreme Court, which handed down a five-year prison sentence for the mayor of a municipality for inciting and participating with residents in a demonstration that destroyed and burnt down houses inhabited by Romani people. It was the first time that a Spanish court had sanctioned an act against the Romani community.

Article from the “Maj Khetane” educational project.
Written by Jesús Salinas.

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