Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

In Spain, Can Truth Ever Bring Reconciliation?

By Mark Nayler

20 Nov 2022 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

Spain wants to emulate South Africa by delivering "restorative justice" to victims of crimes committed during its civil war. Its plan has attracted some criticism, Foreign Policy reports.

Spain’s socialist prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has passed a new “Democratic Memory” law, which he says will help “settle Spanish democracy’s debt to its past” by bringing “justice, reparation and dignity” to victims of crimes committed during the nation’s 1936-39 civil war and the ensuing 36-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

The new legislation, passed last month, is in some respects an improvement on a similar law enacted in 2007—but it’s also open to some of the criticisms leveled at other instances of restorative, rather than retributive, justice. Spain, once again, has posed the question of what it really means for a country to confront and reconcile itself with a troubled past.

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