Human rights in Spain

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Human rights[edit]

Under a new health law introduced in September 2012, immigrants without proper residents permits are to be refused medical care. Illegal immigrants older than 18 will only be entitled to free treatment within Spain's healthcare system in cases of emergency or a pregnancy or birth.[1]

Environmental racism[edit]

NASA view of greenhouses at El Ejido on the Campo de Dalías, Spain.

Environmental racism has been documented in Spain, with North African and Romani ethnic communities being particularly affected, as well as migrant agricultural workers from throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Southeast Europe. As of 2007, there were an estimated 750,000 Romani (primarily Gitano Romani) living in Spain.[2]:3 According to the "Housing Map of the Roma Community in Spain, 2007", 12% of Romani live in substandard housing, while 4%, or 30,000 people, live in slums or shantytowns; furthermore, 12% resided in segregated settlements.[2]:8 According to the Roma Inclusion Index 2015, the denial of environmental benefits has been documented in some communities, with 4% of Romani in Spain not having access to running water, and 9% not having access to electricity.[2]:8

Efforts to relocate shantytowns (chabolas), which according to a 2009 report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights were disproportionately inhabited by Romani persons,[3]:4 gained momentum in the late 1980s and 1990s.[4]:315 These initiatives were ostensibly designed to improve Romani living conditions, yet also had the purpose of being employed to vacate plots of real estate for development.[4]:315 In the words of a 2002 report on the situation of Romani in Spain, "thousands of Roma live in transitional housing, without any indication of when the transition period will end," a situation which has been attributed to the degradation of many transitional housing projects into ghettoes.[4]:316 In the case of many such relocations, Romani people have been moved to the peripheries of urban centers,[4]:315, 317 often in environmentally problematic areas.[4]:316 In the case of Cañada Real Galiana, diverse ethnic groups including non-Romani Spaniards and Moroccans have been documented as experiencing issues of environmental injustice alongside Romani communities.[5]:16[6]: 13–15

In 2002, 16 Romani families in El Cascayu were relocated under a transitional housing scheme to what has been described by the organization SOS Racismo as a discriminatory, isolated, and environmentally marginalized housing location.[4]:317 According to SOS Racismo,

... the last housing units built within [the] eradication of marginalization plan in El Cascayu, where 16 families will be re-housed, is a way of chasing these families out of the city. They will live in a place surrounded by a 'sewer river,' a railroad trail, an industrial park and a highway. So far away from education centres, shops, recreational places and without public transport, it will be physically difficult for them to get out of there.[4]:317

Map excerpt of Valdemingómez district, Cañada Real Galiana, Madrid. The long grey strip along Cañada Real Galiana roadway and transhumance trail denotes the 16 kilometre-long, 75 metre-wide shantytown where 8,600 persons reside. Rectangular shapes denote structures.

On the outskirts of Madrid, 8,600 persons inhabit the informal settlement of Cañada Real Galiana,[5]:16 also known as La Cañada Real Riojana or La Cañada Real de las merinas.[6]:10 It constitutes the largest shantytown in Western Europe.[5]:1 The settlement is located along 16 kilometres of a 75 metre-wide, 400 kilometre-long environmentally protected transhumance trail between Getafe and Coslada,[5]:2–3[6]:10 part of a 125,000 kilometre network of transhumance routes throughout Spain.[6]:10 Certain areas of the unplanned and unauthorized settlement are economically affluent, working-class, or middle-class[5]:3[6]:12 and are viewed as desirable areas for many (particularly Moroccan immigrants who have faced discrimination in the broader Spanish rental market).[5]:9[6]:12 However, much of the Cañada Real Galiana is subject to severe environmental racism,[5]:8 particularly in the Valdemingómez district of the settlement.[6]:13–16

Migrant agricultural workers in Southern Spain[edit]

Throughout southern Spain, migrant workers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and South East Europe employed in the agricultural sector have experienced housing and labour conditions that could be defined as environmental racism, producing food for larger European society while facing extreme deprivations.[7][8][9]

In Murcia, lettuce pickers have complained of having to illegally work for salary by volume for employment agencies, instead of by the hour, meaning they are required to work more hours for less pay, while also experiencing unsafe exposure to pesticides.[8] Workers have alleged that they have been forced to work in fields while pesticide spraying is active, a practice which is illegal under Spanish work safety laws.[7][8]

Beginning in the 2000s in the El Ejido region of Andalusia, African (including large numbers of Moroccan) immigrant greenhouse workers have been documented as being faced with severe social marginalization and racism while simultaneously being exposed to extremely difficult working conditions with significant exposure to toxic pesticides.[8][9] The El Ejido region has been described by environmentalists as a "sea of plastic" due to the expansive swaths of land covered by greenhouses, and has also been labeled "Europe's dirty little secret" due to the documented abuses of workers who help produce large quantities of Europe's food supply.[9]

Greenhouses at El Ejido

In these greenhouses, workers are allegedly required to work under "slave-like" conditions in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius with nonexistent ventilation, while being denied basic rest facilities and earning extremely low wages, among other workplace abuses.[7][8] As of 2015, out of 120,000 immigrant workers employed in the greenhouses, 80,000 are undocumented and not protected by Spanish labour legislation, according to Spitou Mendy of the Spanish Field Workers Syndicate (SOC).[7] Workers have complained of ill health effects as a result of exposure to pesticides without proper protective equipment.[7][8] Following the killing of two Spanish farmers and a Spanish woman in two separate incidents involving Moroccan citizens in February 2000, an outbreak of xenophobic violence took place in and around El Ejido, injuring 40 and displacing large numbers of immigrants.[10][11] According to Angel Lluch

For three days on end, from 5 to 7 February, racist violence swept the town with immigrants as its target. For 72 hours hordes of farmers wielding iron bars, joined by youths from the high schools, beat up their victims, chased them through the streets and pursued them out among the greenhouses. Roads were blocked, barricaded and set aflame.[11]

Legal Reform[edit]

In February 2014, a Spanish court ordered the arrest of China’s former Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin and former Premier Li Peng for the alleged genocide and torture of the people of Tibet.[12] The Chinese government expressed anger at the actions of the Spanish court, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stating "China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to the erroneous acts taken by the Spanish agencies in disregard of China's position,".[13] In May 2014, in response to the diplomatic situation, the Spanish government repealed the universal jurisdiction law.[14]

Former judge Baltasar Garzón has criticized the government's reform. Commenting on the judges ability to prosecute foreign crimes against humanity, genocides and war crimes he said "The conditions that they're imposing are so exorbitant that it would be almost impossible to prosecute these crimes.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Immigrants in Spain to lose right to public healthcare". https://www.theguardian.com/. Retrieved 9 October 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  2. ^ a b c European Roma; Travellers Forum (January 2016). "Fact sheet on the situation of Roma in Spain" (PDF). European Roma and Travellers Forum. pp. 1–15. Retrieved July 10, 2016.  Archived July 2, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Ostalinda; Ovalle; and Tatjana Peric (European Roma Rights Centre) (October 2009). "Case study: improving Roma housing and eliminating slums, Spain (Conference edition)" (PDF). European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. pp. 1–30. Retrieved July 10, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Open Society Institute (2002). "The Situation of Roma in Spain" (PDF). Minority Rights Information System. EU Accession Monitoring Program. pp. 281–359. Retrieved June 24, 2017.  Archived June 25, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Gonick, Sophie (2015). "Interrogating Madrid's 'Slum of Shame': Urban Expansion, Race, and Place-Based Activisms in the Cañada Real Galiana". Antipode. 47 (5): 1–19. ISSN 0066-4812. doi:10.1111/anti.12156. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Rubio, Lucía Asué Mbomío. "The Invisible City: Voices in the Cañada Real Galiana" (film dossier). Archived February 21, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. Docs & Films, Catalogo de Distribución. Antropodocus Producciones, 2015. Web. p. 10–15. July 8, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e Serpis, Almudena (April 16, 2015). "Salad days? Semi-slavery on the 'sweating fields' of southern Spain". The Ecologist. Retrieved July 10, 2016.  Archived October 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Kennedy, Siobhan (April 15, 2016). "What's the real cost of your fresh salad?". 4 News. Retrieved July 10, 2016.  Archived July 18, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b c Wockner, Gary (December 18, 2015). "Europe's Dirty Little Secret: Moroccan Slaves and a 'Sea of Plastic'". EcoWatch. Retrieved July 10, 2016.  Archived April 27, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ EFE. Más de 11 de años de prisión por el crimen que desencadenó los incidentes racistas en El Ejido. La Vanguardia, EFE. October 21, 2003. Web. n. pag. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  11. ^ a b Angel Lluch, Victor (March 2000). "The pogrom at El Ejido: Spanish apartheid, plastic-wrapped". Le Monde diplomatique. Retrieved July 10, 2016.  Archived July 29, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Spain Issues Arrest Order For Jiang Zemin, Li Peng". http://thediplomat.com/. Retrieved 9 October 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  13. ^ "China angry over Spanish arrest warrant for former president Jiang Zemin". www.abc.net. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2014/0410/Spain-A-human-rights-avenger-no-longer". http://www.csmonitor.com/.  External link in |website=, |title= (help)
  15. ^ "Spain regressing on human rights, says judge who pursued Pinochet". https://www.theguardian.com/.  External link in |website= (help)

External links[edit]