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Council of Europe Condemns Deterioration of Human Rights in Spain

Queue outside a soup kitchen. Photo from the blog «Verdad y justicia, por Dios» [Truth and Justice, for God's sake]

Queue outside a soup kitchen. Photo from the blog «Verdad y justicia, por Dios» [Truth and Justice, for God's sake]

Council of Europe (CoE) commissioner Nils Muiznieks visited Spain in July in order to gather information on the state of human rights in the country. On October 9th, the CoE published the report written following this visit, in which the commissioner condemns the serious deterioration of human rights as a result of austerity measures. The report also denounces the recent actions of the riot police:

Los niños se ven afectados en forma desproporcionada por los recortes en los presupuestos para ayudas sociales, sanidad y educación, y por la reducción de las prestaciones familiares, que han provocado que algunos niños sufran pobreza y problemas nutricionales.

(…)

El comisario también se muestra preocupado por el hecho de que la crisis económica haya tenido un impacto negativo en los programas y políticas dirigidos a promover la inclusión de personas con discapacidad.

(…)

El comisario también se muestra preocupado por los informes sobre el uso desproporcionado de la fuerza  –incluyendo el uso de balas de goma– por las fuerzas de seguridad durante las manifestaciones contra la austeridad (…) La frecuente falta de identificación de los agentes, sobre todo en las manifestaciones, ha impedido la imputación y castigo de los autores de abusos. (…) El Comisario urge al gobierno español a acabar con esa arraigada práctica, basada en una ley de 1870, de conceder indultos a miembros de las fuerzas de seguridad condenados por severas violaciones de los derechos humanos, incluida la tortura.

Children are disproportionately affected by cuts in the budgets for social assistance, health and education, and by the reduction in family benefits, which have caused some children to suffer poverty and nutritional problems.

(…)

The commissioner also states his concern regarding the fact that the economic crisis has had a negative impact on programmes and policies aimed at promoting the inclusion of disabled persons.

(…)

The commissioner also states his concern over reports of the disproportionate use of force  – including the use of rubber bullets- by the security forces during anti-austerity protests (…) The frequent failure by agents to wear identification, above all at protests, has impeded the accusation and punishment of those who commit abuse. (…) The commissioner urges the Spanish government to put an end to the long-established practice, based on a law from 1870, to pardon members of the security forces who are convicted of serious human rights violations, including torture.

The Council of Europe is an organisation which includes 47 European countries and whose mission is to protect citizens’ rights. The CoE does not depend upon the European Union, despite the fact that all EU states are members of the Council of Europe (although they are not its only members). Its best-known institution is the European Court of Human Rights whose headquarters is located in Strasbourg.

The report highlights the decline in universal healthcare which inhabitants of the country enjoyed until 2012. According to eldiario.es [es]:

… el departamento que dirige Ana Mato ha eliminado a los inmigrantes en situación irregular del acceso a la sanidad pública. (…) «Los recortes masivos en personal médico, en la financiación de los centros de salud públicos y otros servicios de atención primaria, el cierre de los servicios de urgencias y el copago de las medicinas».

The ministry led by Ana Mato has excluded immigrants with irregular status from accessing public healthcare. (…) “Huge cuts in medical personnel, in funding for public health centres and other primary health services, the closure of accident and emergency departments and copayment for medicines”.

Público [es] compiles comments on education made in the report:

Muiznieks advierte de que “los importantes recortes de los últimos tres años en materia educativa están poniendo en peligro la igualdad de oportunidades y hacen que los niños que están pasando dificultades tengan más difícil el acceso a una educación de calidad”. Por último, critica la eliminación de Educación para la Ciudadanía y reclama la reintroducción de materias sobre derechos humanos

Muiznieks warns that “significant cuts in education during the last three years are endangering equality of opportunity and mean that children who are in difficulty have less access to a quality education.” Finally, he criticises the withdrawal of Education for Citizenship [in schools] and calls for the reintroduction of subjects dealing with human rights.

The report also highlights the problem of forced evictions, as euroxpress [es] explains:

El comisario ha pedido al gobierno que antes de un desahucio que afecte a menores, «se cercioren de que hay un alojamiento alternativo, adecuado y asequible, y que éste se proporcione en casos de desahucios de familias con hijos, independientemente de su edad».

The commissioner has asked the government that prior to an eviction affecting minors, “it should be checked that there is alternative, adequate and affordable accommodation, and that this should be provided in the case of families with children, regardless of their age.”

Riot police detain a young woman injured at a protest. Photo from the blog «El aullido» [The Howl]

Riot police detain a young woman injured at a protest. Photo from the blog «El aullido» [The Howl]

With reference to the brutality of riot police units at protests in recent years, Público [es] explains:

La situación que se vive en las calles, así como en comisarías, prisiones y Centros de Internamiento para Extranjeros (CIEs), que ha recogido el Comisionado ha sorprendido a los enviados europeos. “La investigación indica un excesivo uso de la fuerza por parte de las agentes de seguridad en las manifestaciones contra la austeridad de 2011 y 2012, que sacaron a la luz violaciones de los derechos humanos que se cometían desde hace años”

The situation on the streets, as well as in police stations, prisons and Detention Centres for Foreigners (CIEs), which the commission has observed surprised the European envoys. “The investigation indicates an excessive use of force by security agents at anti-austerity protests in 2011 and 2012, which brought to light human rights violations which had been taking place for years”

This report has been widely discussed on social networks and other media. Jartito [es] criticises the ruling party in El País [es]:

Ya sabe el PP muy, pero que muy bien, a quienes perjudica y a quienes beneficia todo lo que está haciendo y en el caso de la represión policial, la necesita para poder perpetrar sus políticas contra el pueblo.

The PP already knows, and very well too, who their actions harm and who they benefit, and in the case of police repression, the party needs it to be able to perpetrate its policies against the people.

Esparbe [es] provides a reminder of other international organisations which have also recently condemned the Spanish government's actions in Huffington Post [es]:

¡Zas!, en toda la jeta, el Comisario de Derechos Humanos del Consejo de Europa, la ONU, la UNESCO, sociedades internacionales de todo tipo poniendo en evidencia las actuaciones de un gobierno fascistoide, y que, tienen tan gran jeta y lo suficientemente dura para aguantar eso y mucho mas sin despeinarse, y el domingo a misa mayor.

In your face! The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN, UNESCO, international organisations of all kinds bringing the actions of a fascistic government into the spotlight, and they have such a cheek that they withstand all that and more without even ruffling their feathers, and off they go to high mass on Sundays.

On the same site, Pilar1234 displays a more pessimistic outlook:

Buen informe. Lástima que Mariano sólo lo vaya a usar para limpiarse el c*** con él.

Great report. Shame that Mariano's only going to use it to wipe his a*** with.

Evolution of the rate of poverty in Spain (2004-2011). Image from eldiario.es, under licence CC-BY-SA.

Evolution of the rate of poverty in Spain (2004-2011). Image from eldiario.es, under licence CC-BY-SA.

 

Luisa Sánchez [es] writes the following on the blog Impresiones de una periodista en paro [Impressions of an unemployed journalist] [es]:

(…) el actual Ejecutivo no parece estar preocupado por los dramas que está causando, preocupado tan solo en garantizar la prosperidad de la oligarquía del dinero que ha aumentado en un 13% en el último ejercicio, según un informe del banco Credit Suisse, que calcula que son 402.000 españoles los tienen un patrimonio valorado en más de 740.000 euros. Contrasta esa cifra con el ingente número de familias que no cuentan con ningún tipo de prestación, o si tienen el privilegio de recibirlas han sido reducidas a la ridícula cantidad de 291 euros, como señala, escandalizado, el Comisario Europeo de Derechos Humanos.

(…) the current Executive doesn't appear to be concerned by the dramas which it is causing, worrying only about guaranteeing the prosperity of the oligarchy of money which increased by 13% in the last financial year, according to a report by the bank Credit Suisse, which calculates that 402,000 Spaniards have assets worth more than 740,000 euros. Contrast this figure with the huge number of families who do not receive any kind of assistance, or if they are lucky enough to do so, they have been reduced to the ridiculous amount of 291 euros, as the European Commissioner for Human Rights points out, scandalised.

This scolding of Mariano Rajoy's government comes on top of others it has received in recent weeks from the United Nations, which published a report criticising the way in which the Spanish government is hindering the investigation of the crimes of the Franco era , and from the OSCE, which has included Spain in its blacklist of countries lacking freedom [es] after the Spanish authorities refused to allow its envoys to monitor the anti-monarchy demonstration held on September 28th.

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