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Amnesty International slams 'police violence', forced evictions and no healthcare for immigrants
thinkSPAIN , Thursday, May 23, 2013

AMNESTY International has condemned the 'unnecessary violence' used by riot police during public demonstrations in Spain and the 'lack of guarantees' for people whose homes have been repossessed.

In its annual report, AI listed six areas where it considered Spain needed to improve its human rights policies.

Other entries included anti-terrorism measures, racism and domestic violence, but particularly emphasised repossession of homes and 'aggressiveness' by police in protest marches as being two areas directly caused by the financial crisis.

The report mentioned two cases in point concerning the latter – the death of Ángela Jaramillo from a heart attack three months after being repeatedly beaten with truncheons by police officers when taking part in a peaceful demonstration, the after-effects of which required medical treatment; and reporter Paloma Aznar, who suffered a serious eye injury after being hit by a rubber bullet fired at her, despite wearing her press identification in a prominent place about her person.

Amnesty International referred more generically to riot police hitting, firing rubber bullets at and threatening participants and reporters in a peaceful demonstration in Madrid on September 25.

They added that investigations were usually 'impossible' because victims were unable to identify the officers who had attacked them by their numbers, and because they did not have evidence to prove their injuries were inflicted by the police.

According to AI, this means the victims of excessive police violence are 'defenceless' at law, and that authorities did not carry out 'full, structured and systematic' inquiries into such cases.

Its report also condemned 'forced evictions', both of mortgage defaulters and people living in poverty in shanty towns, which are 'a long way from complying with international legal guarantees' stipulated by legislative reforms passed to deal with the effects of the global recession.

Spain was 'not evaluating or dealing with the repercussions' affecting the human rights of 'vulnerable sectors of the population', or offering the legal guarantees of prior consultation and negotiation, compensation in the case of people evicted from shanty towns, and suitable alternative accommodation for all those left homeless.

Amnesty International says Spain has made no further efforts in the last two years to address this issue, despite the organisation having warned the government in 2011 that hundreds of thousands of residents were at risk of losing their homes and that nine million people were living in actual poverty with no legal support.

Among other issues, AI slammed the fact that victims of domestic violence do not have access to 'effective remedies' and 'face obstacles' when seeking help, and that foreigners without a residence card or not paying social security were unable to obtain medical treatment via the public health service without paying.

“This is not a cutback, it is a violation of human rights,” says Amnesty International.

“For governments in the European Union, it is more important to them to protect borders than to protect life and health.”

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