Ministry can protect trans prisoners’ details

Caption: FERNANDO GRANDE-MARLASKA: No need to reveal trans prisoners’ details, Interior minister maintains
Photo credit: Pool Moncloa/Cesar P Sendra

SPAIN’S Interior Ministry need not reveal where a transexual murderer and rapist is serving a 38-year prison sentence.

The Consejo de Transparencia y Buen Gobierno (Transparency and Good Governance Committee) has now backed the Ministry’s decision not to disclose this information to a feminist organisation.

Providing these details would infringe Data Protection legislation, the committee concluded.

In June 2018 Jonathan de Jesus Robaina Santana raped and killed his cousin Vanesa Santana in Betancuria, Fuerteventura (Canary Islands).

Four days later, he confessed to killing Vanesa but not to the rape, claiming that he self-identified as a woman.

Having begun a sex-change transition while on remand, he requested through his lawyer, to be addressed in court as Lorena when his trial began in May 2021.

Meanwhile, on January 23 this year, the feminist group Alianza contra el Borrado de las Mujeres (Alliance Against the Erasure of Women) asked the Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska to clarify Robaina’s situation in the prisons system.

The group maintained that Spain’s Trans Law, which was going through parliament at the time, endangered the rights of women prisoners and could put them at risk.

Amongst other things, the law enables anyone over the age of 16 to change the gender stated on their identity papers, requiring no further action than a public declaration of non-conformity with the gender assigned to them at birth.  No psychological or medical evaluations are required.

Prisons’ authority Instituciones Penitenciarias, which is attached to the Interior Ministry, declined to inform the feminist group where Robaina is serving the 38-year sentence and reveal whether the prisoner had been assigned to a wing reserved for women or was living a women’s prison.

The Transparency and Good Governance Committee has now backed the Ministry’s stance, based on European Union directives issued in 2016 as well as Spain’s 2018 Data Protection law.

“In the case under review, it is undeniable that the information required contains information related to sexual orientation which is included in the special categories of personal details,” the committee said.

A spokesman for Alianza contra el Borrado de las Mujeres announced that the association intended to appeal against the committee’s decision.

According to the Interior Ministry and the regional governments of Cataluña and the Basque Region who manage their own prison systems, figures provided in April 2023 showed that there are 103 trans persons currently serving prison sentences in Spain.  They amount to 0.18 per cent of a prison population of approximately 55,000.

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