Spain's cabinet approves 'Historical Memory Law' in first step to annul Franco-era convictions

Pending parliamentary approval, law will ban organizations sympathetic to dictatorship

Spanish vice president, Carmen Calvo, September 15, 2020 (by Moncloa/José María Cuadrado)
Spanish vice president, Carmen Calvo, September 15, 2020 (by Moncloa/José María Cuadrado) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

September 15, 2020 05:14 PM

The Spanish cabinet has approved this Tuesday draft legislation that would see the annulment of convictions for ideological reasons during the Franco regime.

The so-called 'Historical Memory Law', which still has to go before the Spanish Congress and Senate, goes further than a similar law passed in 2007, which described such sentences as "illegitimate" while stopping short of voiding them.

Former Catalan president Lluís Companys, executed in 1940, is among those whose convictions will be annulled.

Judgments and sentences handed out by Francoist courts will be declared "null and void", according to Spanish vice president, Carmen Calvo.

The Catalan parliament symbolically nullified the Francoist sentences in 2017, including that of Lluís Companys and those affecting 64,000 more Catalans.

Victim census, graves map, and DNA Bank

The draft bill will also promote the exhumation of victims with the creation of a national census, a map of graves, and a DNA bank. Financial help will also be granted towards the recovery of victims' remains.

Calvo said that Spain will assume responsibility for locating bodies and "pay them the tribute they deserve." She admitted that the government did not know how many unidentified victims there are, but said they will "mobilize the necessary public resources to identify and be able to bury them with the peace they deserve."

The Valley of the Fallen will be redesignated a civil cemetery where "both sides of the war have peace", the vice president added.

No funding for Franco apologists 

The legislation will also ban organizations that praise dictators from receiving public funds, which could apply to the Fundación Nacional Francisco Franco (FNFF).

The Francisco Franco Foundation was set up a year after the dictator's death in 1975 to promote a positive interpretation of his legacy. Franco's daughter, and his only child, Carmen Franco, headed the organization until her death in 2017.