Human rights of immigrants, women, gypsies 'are at risk'

10th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 November 2005, PARIS — Illegal immigrants, women, gypsies and prisoners in the Basque Country are at risk, a report by Europe's human rights commissioner has found.

10 November 2005

PARIS — Illegal immigrants, women, gypsies and prisoners in the Basque Country are at risk, a report by Europe's human rights commissioner has found.

Although Spain has demonstrated a "firm and deep" respect for human rights since democracy was restored, theses remain "sectors of risk".

That is the conclusion reached by the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Alvaro Gil-Robles, in his first report on Spain.

The Council of Europe is an international organization of 46 member states in the European region.

One of the main successes of the Council was the European Convention on Human Rights in 1950, which serves as the basis for the European Court of Human Rights.

"In the 28 years that have passed since the restoration of democracy, Spain has demonstrated a firm and deep commitment to respect for and protection of human rights," says the study.

Although Gil-Robles congratulates the country on the existence of a "solid culture" of respect for human rights, he warns that "sectors of risk persist".

The treatment of illegal immigrants upon their arrival in Spain, access to asylum and deportation procedures are the subjects taking up the most pages in the 10-chapter study.

Gil-Robles says that the problem of "massive and uncontrolled" immigration, which particularly affects the Mediterranean countries like Spain, requires an "urgent" push for a common policy within the European Union.

The commissioner says that the second-biggest worry with regard to Spain's human rights situation continues to be respect for prisoners' rights, and areas of particular concern include the "deterioration" in prison conditions, overcrowding and the suicide rate among inmates.

Another "worrying fact" for Gil-Robles is the rise in cases of mistreatment of persons by members of regional police forces.

It particularly struck the commissioner that according to the Coordinator for the Prevention of Torture, last year 48 persons died in police stations throughout the country, while the Interior Ministry reported the figure as only 15.

Within the report, an entire chapter is devoted to the "very serious" problem of domestic and sexual violence suffered by women in Spain, a twin scourge that took the lives of 443 females between January 1999 and September 2004.

Spain has taken "a fundamental step forward in the struggle" against such abuse and the laws approved to combat it strike Gil-Robles as "enormously" positive.

But he recommends more protection for the victims, especially for those who are foreigners.

He also says he regrets that gypsies continue to suffer "a certain social and economic rejection and exclusion" in Spain.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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