Known as the “Law on Democratic Memory”, the legislation makes the state responsible for finding and identifying the remains rather than leaving the task to relatives.
Campaigners say the remains of more than 100,000 people are in unmarked graves across Spain, a figure which Amnesty International says is only exceeded by Cambodia.
Franco’s Nationalists won the 1936-1939 civil war and honoured their own dead but left their opponents in unmarked graves.
Many more people went missing or were killed under the dictatorship, which ended with Franco’s death in 1975.
The bill is expected to be passed by parliament despite hostility from the main right-wing opposition, which says the left is needlessly opening old wounds and has promised to repeal the law if reelected.
“Today Spain is settling a historic debt with its past. We have passed the democratic memory law that lets us move towards recognising the victims of the civil war and the dictatorship,” tweeted Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
“It is a much-needed law that lets us become a better country.”
The passage of time and the lack of records about the executions has made both finding and identifying victims difficult.
The bill sets aside public money to search for the missing, map the mass graves and create a DNA database to help identify the remains.
It also annuls the convictions of opponents of the Franco regime and provides for the appointment of a prosecutor to probe human rights abuses during the civil war and dictatorship.
Until now, all such moves have been prevented by a 1977 amnesty law, which was seen as essential to avoid score-settling in the fledgling democracy.
Under a 2007 law, the state simply offered support to help families trace and exhume relatives buried in unmarked graves.
But Sanchez’s government has sought to bring Spain in line with other European countries that have gone through dictatorships.
“With this law, we are making Spain… a more dignified country,” said Democratic Memory Minister Felix Bolanos.
He added that the law took care of the victims and did not forget those who died fighting a dictatorship.
Spain has been criticised for shortcomings in its efforts to address the legacy of the civil war and the dictatorship.
The UN Human Rights Council said leaving victims’ relatives to search for their loved ones highlighted “the indifference of state institutions”.
Since coming to power in 2018, Sanchez has made several moves to deal with Franco’s legacy.
In October 2019, he had Franco’s remains transferred from a vast basilica near Madrid to a small family plot.
IRFU must shoulder some blame for state of women’s rugby in Ireland
Watching the distressed female Irish players trying to console each other after Saturday’s heartbreaking, last-ditch defeat by Scotland in Parma which wrenched World Cup qualification aspirations from their grasp made for a very uncomfortable, almost invasive, watch. It was a relief when the RTÉ cameras panned back to the studio.
Watching Sene Naoupu embracing a tearful Ciara Griffin, it’s a wonder that Naoupu had kept her own emotions under control. Representing Ireland at a World Cup in her native New Zealand would have been such a fitting finale to her stellar career.
Q&A: Can foreigners become civil servants in Spain?
For many Spaniards, landing a stable, paper-pushing civil servant position is the dream.
They know it’s not going to be exciting or to make them rich but they see funcionario work as ‘a job for life’ in a country where the unemployment level is notoriously high and much of the job market is based on temporary summer positions in tourism.
They also like the fact that civil servant jobs pay a decent salary compared with the national average and often work fewer hours too.
Funcionario positions in Public Administration, Social Security and Defense were paid an average of €29,580 gross per year in 2020.
This is higher than the national average gross salary of €24,395 per year, according to stats released by Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE), although that’s not to say some civil servants get paid considerably less than the above mentioned salary.
So, if jobs in the civil service are so popular then how can you get one as a foreigner?
Can foreigners in Spain get civil service jobs?
The main answer is yes, you can get a job in the civil service in Spain as a foreigner, however, there are a few requirements.
Those eligible for civil servant jobs in Spain include EU nationals and those who are married to Spanish or EU nationals. You must currently be married and not divorced.
Children of EU nationals who are eligible to work in Spain (over 16 years old) and who are under 21 can also apply, as can those who are over 21 but who are financially dependent on their parents.
Third-country nationals with work and residence permits in Spain may also apply for civil service jobs.
Does this apply to all jobs in the civil service?
No, the only jobs that foreigners can’t apply for and that you must have Spanish nationality for are those which “directly or indirectly imply participation in the exercise of public power or in the safeguarding of the general interests of the State and Public Administrations” according to the Spanish government.
What qualifications do I need?
While some civil service jobs in Spain require a university degree, there are several that don’t.
Whatever types of qualifications you have, however, will have to go through the homologación (recognition) process so that it’s validated and accepted in Spain. Keep in mind that this can take months, and for non-EU qualification holders even longer.
You may also be required to show other proof and certificates.
According to the Spanish government: “This requirement will not apply to applicants who have obtained recognition of their professional qualification in the field of regulated professions, under the provisions of Community law”.
It also goes without saying that you will need a high level of Spanish to get a job as a civil servant and you may need certificates to prove this too. If you’re trying to get a job in Catalonia for example, you may also be required to know Catalan, as well as Spanish.
What are oposiciones?
Oposiciones are the entrance exams you’ll need to sit to become a civil servant in Spain. Each type of position will have its own requirements, some easier and some harder, which involve a series of exams to test your abilities and suitability.
Some positions may require practical exams, while others such as for the police force will require a physical test.
Photo: FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP
Is there anything that will prevent me from getting a civil servant job in Spain?
Yes, foreigners should not have received disciplinary action or been fired from similar roles in public service in their own countries.
Also, those who are applying for jobs where they will be in contact with children may have to show a police check from their home country to prove that their record is clean.
What are the advantages of being a civil servant in Spain?
- A decent salary
- You have the right to take holiday days in addition to personal days off
- Your social security is automatically deducted, giving you healthcare and pension rights
- It’s a stable job that you are less likely to be made redundant from
- You have the possibility of transferring to different departments
READ ALSO: The downsides of moving to Spain for work
What are the disadvantages of being a civil servant in Spain?
- It’s a big investment in time and effort to get a job as a civil servant
- The need for qualifications, extra tests, and exams
- The extensive number of requirements and paperwork that needs to be filled out
- Complicated systems as well as old-fashioned and bureaucratic work models
- Monotonous work, where you’re unlikely to face new challenges
- Little to no opportunities for remote employment
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