Fundamental rights and duties set forth by the Constitution

In the Constitution

The preamble of the Spanish Constitution begins with the following statements:

The desire of the Spanish nation to establish justice, freedom and security and to promote the wellbeing of those who make it up.

The proclamation of the will to guarantee the democratic coexistence and laws according to a fair economic and social order; to protect Spaniards and peoples of Spain in the exercise of human rights, their cultures, traditions, languages and institutions; to promote the progress of culture and the economy to ensure a dignified quality of life; and to establish an advanced democratic society.

Spain is constituted as a lawful social and democratic state that advocates freedom, justice, equality and political pluralism as the highest values of its legal system (article 1 of the Constitution).

In addition to the above, another pillar of the rights system is found in the mandates of article 9 of the Constitution:

General subjection of all individuals to the Constitution and to the rest of the legal system.

Three special mandates applicable to public authorities:

  • to promote conditions so that the freedom and equality of individuals and the groups they make up are real and effective;
  • to remove obstacles that impede or hinder the fullness of freedom and equality;
  • to facilitate the participation of all citizens in political, economic, cultural and social life.

A final pillar is found in nuclear article 10 under Title I on fundamental rights and duties.

From the structure of this title we can deduce that fundamental rights are classified into several categories:

  • CHAPTER ONE – Rights of Spaniards and foreigners (articles 11 to 13)
  • CHAPTER TWO – Rights and liberties
    • Article 14 – Equality under the law
    • Section 1 – Fundamental rights and public liberties (articles 15 to 29)
    • Section 2 – The rights and duties of citizens (articles 30 to 38)
  • CHAPTER THREE – Guiding principles of social and economic policy (articles 39 to 52)
  • CHAPTER FOUR – Guarantees of freedoms and fundamental rights (articles 53 and 54)
  • CHAPTER FIVE – The suspension of rights and freedoms (article 55): only in exceptional situations, due to declaration of a state of emergency or siege (war).

With regard to guarantees, we can first see that article 53 distinguishes:

  • Rights with special protection: only equality and those recognized in Section One of Chapter Two, either before the ordinary courts through a preemptive and summary procedure, or possibly by means of appeal before the Constitutional Court. This special protection is also applicable to conscientious objection (article 30). In addition, these rights can only be developed by organic law.
  • All rights and freedoms recognized in Chapter Two: apply to all public authorities; their exercise can only be regulated by law, which in any case must respect their essential content, otherwise the law may be annulled by the Constitutional Court.
  • Rights under Chapter Three: can only be claimed under the ordinary jurisdiction in accordance with the laws that develop them. Another major non-judicial guarantee is that of article 54: the Defensor del Pueblo, governed by Organic Law 3/1981 of April 6.