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Juan Carlos Orenes, Adjunct Professor of the School of Communication, University of Navarra, Spain.

Registries of abusers

Thu, 29 Jul 2010 11:57:47 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

The seriousness of the problem of domestic violence and the unstoppable trickle of deaths of women contribute to the proposal and adoption of a wide range of measures by the public authorities to try to alleviate this violent behavior.

Some, once approved, encounter enormous difficulties of application internship, such as the implementation of electronic devices for detecting the proximity of perpetrators of gender violence, the so-called location bracelets; at present only 9% of the 3,000 existing bracelets are in use. Another of the measures that are recurrently requested is the publication of lists of abusers.

However, the Constitutional Court has made it clear that the principle of dissemination and advertising of the full content of judgments is not absolute and can be limited. Thus, the Organic Law of the Judiciary provides that access to the text of judgments may be restricted when it may affect, among other rights, the privacy of individuals. On the other hand, the Organic Law on the Protection of data states that the data of character staff, relating to the commission of criminal offenses, may only be included in files of the competent Public Administrations in the cases provided for in the respective regulatory rules.

The Agency of Protection of data understands that the sentences cannot be considered as a source accessible to the public, so no data of character staff of those denounced or condemned for ill-treatment can be published on the Internet without their consent. The controversy is not new, it was already raised on the occasion of the approval of Law 5/2001 of Castilla-La Mancha, this rule establishes that in the annual report on the application of the law, which the Government is obliged to send to the Parliament, the reproduction of the convictions on domestic violence must be included when the victim gives her consent.

To circumvent the problems represented by the violation of the right to the protection of data staff , the Administration does not include these sentences in any automated file, in fact they cannot be consulted on the Internet, but are only included on physical supports that do not allow computer processing; the difficulty of access to the information makes the measure little more than a toast to the sun. It is also significant that, since 2005, the percentage of sentences whose publication has been authorized by the victims, out of the total number of convictions, has gradually decreased to 33.73% in 2008.

In final, the effectiveness of such a measure is more than doubtful and presents undoubted problems of legality as it affects the right to privacy, the right to the protection of data of character staff and the right to rehabilitation and reintegration of the convicted person. Even if we admit the convenience of its publication, what reason would justify not making public convictions for crimes against sexual freedom, against traffic safety, for professional negligence, etc.?

In this sense, there is a Central Registry for the protection of victims of domestic violence, where sentences and security measures imposed in sentences for crimes or misdemeanors, precautionary measures and protection orders agreed in criminal proceedings in progress, as well as violations of any sentence, are registered, and to which judges, prosecutors, police and other administrations have access within the scope of their powers to protect victims of domestic violence.

Demagogy, populism and thoughtlessness seem to be present in certain proposals; the problem of violence against women is serious enough to require that the measures adopted be the result of a calm analysis of their legality and effectiveness, and that they be applied in a coordinated manner throughout the State. Given this way of legislating, it should come as no surprise that the European Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding, a few days ago harshly criticized the Spanish proposal for a Euro-order for the protection of victims of gender violence, pointing out that it was not very serious, immature, full of contradictions and harmful to the victim herself.