AI denounces the abandonment suffered by health workers and the elderly in Spain in the first months of the pandemic

Amnesty International’s (AI) annual report sets out the abandonment suffered by healthcare personnel in Spain during the first months of the covid-19 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 focuses the traditional NGO report, which dedicates a good part of the chapter on Spain to the shortcomings suffered by health personnel and “human rights violations” in residences older.

At the end of the year, it stands out, at least 93,000 health workers had contracted covid-19 (5.1% of cases) and 89 had died from the disease.

In the first weeks there were shortage of protective equipment individual quality patients, who 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 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-19 up to that moment) and denounces referral protocols to hospital centers that were adopted in some communities, that were “discriminatory” and they violated the right to health.

The NGO also criticizes the “indefinite” confinement of many elders in their rooms, with little or no contact with their family members and without effective supervision by the authorities, “which led to violations of their human rights” in facilities that lacked personnel and protection measures.

“Two pandemics”

In a statement, the director of Amnesty International in Spain, Esteban Beltrán, specifically criticizes the situation in the residences of Madrid and Catalonia and considers that the response of health personnel in this pandemic “has been one of the best samples of humanity that the year 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 a 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 suffering gender violence in the family environment and the persistence in Spain of a problem of “homelessness” and access to housing, especially in low-income areas.

AI highlights in this section the royal decrees approved by the Government to set moratoriums on the payment of mortgages and rents and suspend evictions.

“Excessive use of force”

As is traditional in its reports, the NGO once again criticizes the so-called gag law and warns that complaints about “excessive and disproportionate use” of force by agents, in charge of enforcing the rules of the state of alarm.

According to this study, the police issued more than a million fines and sanctioned “arbitrarily” some people for skipping the confinement imposed by the pandemic, such as journalists or the homeless, lacking clear criteria to perform their functions.

The report includes a chapter dedicated to immigration and applauds the emptying of the detention centers of immigrants in the first months of the state of alarm, then reopened.

The main criticisms are directed at “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 cramped conditions and without adequate protection against covid-19 “, alerts AI, 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 process.