Podemos strongly condemns Monday’s attacks in Brussels, in which over 30 people died and over 230 were wounded. Our thoughts are with them, with their families, and also with the victims of the recent attacks in Mali, Somalia, and Ivory Coast. Now more than ever Europe must stay united in its rejection of terrorism and barbarism, in solidarity with the victims and their close ones, and in the defence of, and firm commitment to, peace, freedoms, and human rights.
Terrible events like those in Brussels on Monday require a coordinated response to bring those responsible to justice and to guarantee the victims’ rights to truth, justice, and reparation. Today more than ever, we also need a new consensus amongst the Spanish and European political and social forces allowing us to face the fight against international terrorism in ways that are more effective, just, and respectful of human rights. In order to do so, we must overcome the current model of defence and national security, focused on costly military interventions or isolated police responses which do no tackle the roots of conflicts. The response must be political, and must be based on a new global agenda that tackles this international threat integrally. To that effect, in Podemos we think it’s urgent to advance in the implementation of the following measures:
1.- Measures to neutralise the financial sources of international terrorism
The European Union and Member States must strengthen their cooperation in order to cut off Daesh’s financial sources. In Spain’s case, improvements are necessary in the area of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In its 2014 report on Spain, the FATF (Financial Action Task Force, intergovernmental organisation aimed at developing policies to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism) mentioned, amongst other areas where there is room for improvement, the low level of criminal sanctions for money laundering offences in our country; Spain’s refusal to freeze financial assets in the fight against terrorism; the lack of political and operational cooperation among the authorities in charge of export controls and those responsible for money laundering prevention; or the lack of sufficient regulations of financial intermediaries in electronic transfers.
We urgently need to fix these shortcomings and to promote and encourage Europe-wide initiatives to tighthen the control of opaque capital flows inside and outside our continent. To that effect we will need to contribute our experience and knowledge in the field of financial regulation and control, as well as our tax inspection, intelligence, police, and customs services. In the fight against terrorism, nothing would be more useful than a coordinated action to combat tax havens and reinforce the mechanisms of control and supervision of international capital flows.
2.-Measures to cut off Daesh’s arms supply
The UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo against Daesh. To implement it, we need an integral strategy that guarantees a more effective control over the arms trade, as the existing one isn’t stopping true arsenals of both legal and out-of-circulation weapons from reaching the hands of European terrorists, or preventing Daesh from obtaining weapons in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, etc.). That new European strategy must ensure the effective end of arms transfers to countries where there is a substantial risk of those weapons ending up in the hands of Daesh, o being used to commit human right violations.
Likewise, we must strengthen the existing legislation and checks in all European countries in matters of arms control so they fully comply with the Arms Trade Treaty and other international treaties. This must also include drastic measures to neutralise the burgeoning black arms market in Europe, as sadly we’re seeing that the weapons used in the attacks are of European origin: Yugoslavian Zastava M70 assault rifles were found in the Bataclan concert hall; the Belgian police raids in Brussels found several AK-47, the Russian origin assault rifle that can be bought for a mere 300 euros in the Balkans, a region that has become a bridge for other markets. To control this illegal market we need to establish a harmonised legal framework for arm ownership across the European Union that includes a register of arms sales in each European country, as well as the strengthening of police, intelligence, and judicial cooperation between States.
In Spain’s case, in addition to suspending arms exports to conflict zones or countries, and to promote the fight against the illegal arms trade, it’s necessary to establish more rigorous arms export risk evaluations before licences are granted or denied, and to implement a system of control and verification of the destination, use, and final recipient of the weapons exported by Spain (where they are integrated, for instance into ammunition traceability marking systems). The 53/2007 Act on control of external trade of defence and dual use material must be modified to include the ‘Golden Rule’ of the Arms Trade Treaty. Additionally, it’s necessary to strengthen parliamentary control and transparency in decision-making in these matters.
3.-Measures to reaffirm our commitment to fundamental freedoms and rights.
The fight against terrorism over the last few decades has been based exclusively on a drastic toughening of laws. We’ve seen how fundamental freedoms were increasingly restricted, how states of emergency and legal loopholes were repeatedly abused, how the impunity of torture or ill-treatment practices of detainees was allowed or even legalised, how penal or citizen security laws became increasingly restrictive, how the right to demonstration, expression, and protest were also restricted. A whole new set of measures that moved us away from a model of free and just society based on the rule of law, in the name of an anti-terrorist fight permeated with the discourse of fear. A strategy which has not only restricted freedoms and rights which should be the hallmark of any democracy, but which has also proved highly ineffective.
The response to violence, barbarism, and threats cannot be to sacrifice the core values of our societies, values that result from centuries of advancements and conquests that allow us to enjoy a life in democracy, freedom, and civil rights. We therefore need a different approach that guarantees the effectiveness of police, judicial, and intelligence cooperation within the full respect for human rights and international norms. Restrictive laws in Spain -such as parts of the Penal Code, the Gagging Law, solitary confinement practices, the reform of universal jurisdiction, the Political Parties Act and so on- that do not contribute to reduce or eliminate the spiral of violence and undermine freedoms and the habeas corpus, must be modified. We must also develop policies to fight against misogynistic violence and inequality in access to rights (including economic, social, and cultural ones) in vulnerable communities, both in Europe and in other countries where radicalisation is taking place. We must adopt strategies that favour social cohesion and inclusion, particularly that of the most vulnerable and marginalised collectives (migrant and refugee population, ethnic or religious minorities, etc.). In that mission, the Spanish government already has a tool which should be broadened and strengthened: the Integral Plan Against Radicalisation, approved in February 2015.
4.- Measures to promote the defence of the human rights of refugees fleeing international terrorism, armed conflicts, and oppression.
Millions of people all over the world find themselves having to flee attacks like the one in Brussels, as well as armed conflicts, oppression and other violations of human rights. Despite being morally and legally obliged to protect these people, the European Union and its member States have in the last few years prioritised migration controls, the closure and militarisation of their borders, and the adoption of other measures that put the human rights of refugees and migrants at risk. The most recent example of a legally unacceptable, morally shameful, and totally inefficient (in terms of solving the human rights and humanitarian crisis Europe is experiencing) migration and asylum policy is the treaty which the European Union signed with Turkey on March 18th. A treaty which is clearly incompatible with international human rights legislation, and which also violates the agreement signed by the Spanish Parliament on March 16th.
The European Union and Spain must completely rethink their strategy in the face of this human rights crisis. In addition to immediately stopping the implementation of the treaty with Turkey, we must adopt urgent measures to avoid refugees having to resort to irregular and costly access routes, like crossing the Mediterranean, that so many thousands of lives have taken in the last few years. Spain and the other European Union countries must prioritise the opening of legal channels (humanitarian visas, asylum applications in embassies, measures to support resettlement, family reunification, return, etc.), to protect refugees not only at sea (creating an effective European rescue agency) but also on arrival at their destination. Together, we must ensure their protection and guarantee both a lasting solution and dignified reception conditions.
Finally, we must redirect our foreign policy towards a paradigm based on human rights, gender equality, democracy, and sustainable and inclusive development. In order to do this, it’s essential to promote local leadership in conflict resolution (especially in cases involving civil society, women, human rights workers, non-violent opposition, and marginalised or socially excluded groups) and to avoid forcefully imposing exogenous solutions. We’re deeply concerned, for example, with the militaristic and exogenous approach applied in Iraq or Libya, which is now also being applied in Syria. We believe that it is much more appropriate and sustainable to support an agenda for peace-building that, instead of increasing the defence and armament budgets, prioritises politics and increases the budgets for human rights protection (including the right to health, education, housing, food, water, care), gender equality, democracy, sustainable and inclusive development, and the humanitarian needs in Spain and across the world. In terms of foreign policy, this means improving cooperation in development, humanitarian assistance, international solidarity, and peace building; and directing them towards tackling the causes of armed conflicts. Against the discourse of fear, against the discourse of hatred growing in our continent, feeding off the various forms of exclusion, we must create a new Europe based on an unbreakable commitment to freedoms, human rights, and the values in which we recognise ourselves and which we must never abandon.
Podemos Secretariat for International Relations