Spain under heavy fire from Amnesty International

by Lorraine Williamson
Amnesty International

MADRID – Spain is not spared in the annual report by Amnesty International. The NGO denounces the neglect of healthcare workers, the many deaths in nursing homes and the violation of human rights by Spanish authorities. 

In its annual report, Amnesty International analyses 149 different countries in which the corona pandemic is central. The human rights organisation mainly criticises the neglect of health workers in the first months of the corona pandemic. It also looks at the exorbitant number of deaths in Spanish nursing homes and the “arbitrary action” of police forces during the State of Alarm in Spain.

Extreme shortcomings for health workers in Spain 

Much of the analysis on Spain is about the deficiencies in healthcare. As such, at least 93,000 health workers contracted corona by the end of 2020 and 89 died from it. During the first period of the pandemic, there was an extreme shortage of protective equipment. This meant healthcare staff – but often also staff in nursing homes – were in many cases exposed to Covid-19.

Violation of human rights in Spanish nursing homes 

Amnesty says that according to official figures, at least 20,000 people in nursing homes died of Covid-19 by the end of November. This equates to half of the total number of deaths in Spain by that point. The protocols for referring patients to hospitals were also insufficiently adhered to and constituted a vilolation of human rights. Moreover, because every individual has the right to health care.

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This is not the only example. Amnesty is also critical of the fact that residents of nursing homes had little or no contact with family members. And in many cases were locked in their room without any form of social contact whatsoever.

Response from Amnesty International Spain 

In a press release, Esteban Beltrán, director of Amnesty International Spain, admits the dire situation in nursing homes mainly in Madrid and Catalonia. He does, however, talk about the exceptional use of healthcare during the pandemic. According to Beltrán, Spain has suffered not only from the corona pandemic, but also from “rickety health management” due to lack of planning and investment.

Still reports of disturbances in Spain 

What is written in Amnesty´s report is not just about the past. Reports of excessive force by agents charged with enforcing the current rules of the State of Alert continue. According to the analysis, the police issued more than a million fines for violating the rules of the lockdown. In many cases, these were homeless people or immigrants who could not go to shelters because they were temporarily closed or who could not receive anyone because of the corona measures.

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