May 16, 2021

AI denounces the situation of abandonment of health workers and the elderly in Spain

PCR test on a stock image.

PCR test on a stock image.

The annual report of International Amnesty exposes the abandonment suffered by health personnel in Spain during the first months of the pandemic and the “disproportionate” number of deaths among the elderly, in addition to denouncing “arbitrary” actions by the security forces in a state of alarm.

The pandemic centers the traditional report of the NGO, which devotes a good part of the chapter on Spain to the shortcomings suffered by health personnel and to “human rights violations” in nursing homes. At the end of the year, it stands out, at least 93,000 health workers had contracted the covid-19 (5.1% of the cases) and 89 had died from the disease. In the first weeks, there was a shortage of quality personal protective equipment, which arrived even more late at non-hospital centers, such as primary care centers or residences, and during the first three months the health personnel had limited access to the tests.

AI also recalls that in November it was estimated that 20,000 people had died in nursing homes (50% of total deaths from covid up to that moment) and denounced the referral protocols to hospital centers that were adopted in some communities, which were “discriminatory” and violated the right to health. He also criticizes the “indefinite” confinement of many elders in their rooms, with little or no contact with their families and without effective supervision by the authorities, “which led to violations of their human rights” in facilities that lacked personnel and protection measures.

In a statement, the director of Amnesty International in Spain, Esteban Beltrán, specifically criticizes the situation experienced in the residences in Madrid and Catalonia and considers that the response of health personnel in this pandemic “has been one of the best examples of humanity that 2020 has left us “. In his opinion, in the last year the primary care system in Spain has suffered two pandemics, that of covid-19 and that of health management that has placed this public service “between abandonment and dismantling” due to lack of planning and investment.

The report also outlines the significant increase in calls to hotlines for women at risk of gender-based violence in the family and the persistence in Spain of a problem of homelessness and access to housing, especially in areas low income. AI highlights in this section the royal decrees approved by the Government to set moratoriums on the payment of mortgages and rents and to suspend evictions.

As is traditional in its reports, the NGO again criticizes the so-called gag law and it warns that the complaints about “excessive and disproportionate use” of force by agents in charge of enforcing the rules of the state of alarm persisted. According to this study, the police imposed more than a million fines and “arbitrarily” sanctioned some people for skipping the confinement imposed by the pandemic, such as journalists or the homeless, lacking clear criteria to exercise their functions.

The report includes a chapter dedicated to the immigration and applauds the emptying of immigrant detention centers in the first months of the state of alarm, then reopened. The main criticisms are directed at the “inhumane” conditions experienced by many immigrants in the Canary Islands, overwhelmed by increasing arrivals by about 757%; to expulsions without respecting legal guarantees, and to the tens of thousands of accumulated asylum applications. “There were migrants and asylum seekers who continued to live in reception centers enduring overcrowded conditions and without adequate protection against covid-19,” AI alerts, which focuses on Melilla.

In the section dedicated to freedom of expression and assembly, the NGO once again denounces that Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart are still in prison after being convicted of sedition for their participation in the “procés”.


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