Amnesty International has presented its annual report on the state of human rights in the world, which states that the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic has exposed huge systemic inequalities to minorities around the world. Ethnic groups, health workers and women are among the groups especially affected.
“The covid-19 has harshly revealed, and also aggravated, the inequalities between countries and within them, and has highlighted the terrible disparagement of our leaders towards the common good of humanity. Decades of divisive policies, misguided austerity measures and official decisions not to invest in deteriorated public infrastructure have the consequence that too many people are an easy catch for the virus” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s new secretary general.
The report reviews 149 countries around the world and includes a comprehensive analysis of human rights trends around the world by 2020. In the chapter on Spain, the report continues to denounce the cases of police brutality against voters in the 1 October 2017 Catalan independence referendum and explains that they are currently being investigated in court. Amnesty also remembers that both Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart remain in prison despite repeated requests from this organization to be released.
In addition, Amnesty International also recalls that the gag law remains active now with a government of PSOE and Podemos. This law “criminalizes some legitimate forms of protest” and specifically freedom of expression, assembly and information, and grants more coercive power to security forces.
The annual report also states that health personnel exposed to the coronavirus to save lives without having enough protection tools, especially during the first wave. Amnesty International says there has been a constant shortage of staff, overtime and a lack of adequate protective equipment.
On the other hand, Amnesty International denounces the treatment received by thousands of elderly people living in residences, especially in Catalonia and Madrid. Their lives were not protected and at the height of the pandemic some residents were confined indefinitely in their rooms, “with little or no contact with relatives” and without being supervised by authorities, “which gave rise to human rights violations.”
Amnesty also denounces that the state of alarm, and in particular the confinement, increased the tendency that had already begun with the approval of the “gag law” to give more power to the security forces without mechanisms of adequate control against arbitrary actions, to the detriment of the protection of the rights of citizens, especially the most vulnerable.
Finally, the report also criticizes the treatment of the Spanish state to immigrants who arrived in the Canary Islands, where expulsion orders were issued without respecting the guarantees and procedures contained in the law, and the conditions of overcrowding and unhealthiness in temporary centers for immigrants in Ceuta and Melilla.