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Two deaths in three weeks in Spain’s notorious detention centres

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Allegations of institutional neglect surround the deaths of two migrants within weeks of a report calling for the centres’ closure.

In the early hours of 5 January, a 21-year-old man from Guinea-Conraky, died in Barcelona’s immigration detention centre after complaining of chest pains or (according to another report) breathing problems. The age of the deceased, who has not been named, is enough to sound alarm bells. Friends who were with him allege that the guards delayed in seeking medical help for the young man. Police claim they were on hand immediately and that within fifteen minutes an ambulance had arrived and medical personnel were trying to revive him. Detainees staged a hunger strike to protest the death, pointing out that there are no 24-hour medical facilities at the centre and that doctors only visit twice a week. The authorities responded to the protest by deploying riot police.

The young man was the second person to die in a Spanish migrant detention centre in less than three weeks. On 19 December 2011, an unnamed woman, aged 41, believed to be from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, died of meningitis hours after her admission to hospital from the Aluche detention centre, in the suburbs of Madrid. A ruling on the death from the Madrid court which monitors the centre was highly critical of the ‘manifest overcrowding’ suffered by inmates, who are held six or eight to a cell, the lack of washing and toilet facilities or an infirmary, all of which facilitate the spread of infectious diseases. The court, which described conditions at Aluche as ‘particularly serious’, ordered the centre staff to segregate those who had had contact with the deceased and to ensure appropriate hospital treatment for anyone needing it. A month earlier, the court had to order centre staff to put a stop to the practice of locking cells and denying access to toilets (which are in the corridors), which was forcing women to relieve themselves in plastic bags, bottles or the small sinks in the cells.

The detention centres which house Spain’s undocumented migrants for up to two months pending their deportation were already attracting condemnation and demands for their closure before these latest events. A report by Migreurop released on 15 December, based on in-depth inspections of four centres (in Málaga, Algeciras, Madrid and Barcelona) documented ‘systematic violations of fundamental rights’ including rights to privacy, to legal help, to moral integrity and to dignity, and called for the centres’ urgent legal regulation, pending their eventual closure. Its campaign for regulation of the centres and the imposition of minimum standards has attracted 40,000 signatures and the support of 400 organisations.

Another report by the NGO Pueblos Unidos (Peoples Together), released the day after the death of the Congolese woman and based on over a thousand visits to the Aluche centre where she died, described ‘widespread ill-treatment’, including collective punishments and deprivation of access to fresh air as well as the ‘humiliating and degrading’ denial of access to toilets. This organisation, like the Episcopal Commission on Migrants in Spain, warns of migrants’ exclusion from the general body of legal rights and norms, in a state of ‘juridical exceptionality’ in the centres.

Source: Institute of Race Relations.


IX Human Rights Film Festival of Barcelona

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The IX Human Rights Film Festival with the central in Barcelona and done also in NYC and Paris is directed by Toni Navarro and organised by the Mirada Descubierta entity, remains faithful to a dual commitment: on the one hand, to promote and open up spaces for the dissemination and screening of cinematographic works dealing with the defence of human rights; and on the other hand to increase public awareness and boost respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights based on the dissemination of those works.

This ninth edition is backed by an unprecedented response to the organiser’s call to participate, showing itself in nearly 3,000 audiovisual works received from all round the world.
The inaugural ceremony will take place on Thursday 17 May at 8 pm, at the new headquarters of Filmoteca de Catalunya. The ceremony will include a screening for the first time in Spain of “The Whistleblower” directed by Larysa Kondracki.
The Festival will be presenting a total of 112 films, belonging to the genres of fiction, cartoons and documentaries, 100 of them divided for the purposes of competition into two official sections: the official section of full-length/feature films and the official section of short films.
The works entered for competition will be opting for the official prizes given by the organisers, “Best Short Film” and “Best Full-Length Film“. Outside of competition, the Festival will award two honorary prizes, the “Human Rights Cinema Festival Prize“, and the “Human Rights International Journalism Prize“. For their part, the entities Amnesty International and Survival International, will be granting a further two honorary prizes.
The programme is completed with a number of parallel activities such as specialist talks by leading national and international speakers, exhibitions concerning the world of human rights, and travelling exhibitions of the Festival organised internationally.
The closing ceremony will be held on Tuesday 22 May at the Cines Girona cineman in Barcelona, where there will take place the awards of the various prizes in each official competition section, as well as of the honorary prizes.

Will be held from 17 to 22 May 2012 at the following venues:

BARCELONA

Filmoteca de Catalunya. Pl. Salvador Seguí, s/n
Cinemes Girona. C/ de Girona, 173.
Institut Francès Barcelona. C/ Moià, 8.
Museu d’Història de Catalunya. Pl. Pau Vila, 3.
Fundació Casa del Tibet. C / Rosselló, 181.
FNAC Triangle. Pl. Catalunya, 4.
Centre de Cultura de Dones Francesca Bonnemaison. Sant Pere més Baix 7.
Palau Robert. Passeig de Gràcia, 107.

NEW YORK CITY

East Harlem presents. Poet’s Den Gallery, Poet’s Den Theater 309 East 108th Street Suite 1r. New York, NY 10029.

PARIS

Cinéma la Clef, 34 Rue Daubenton, 75005 Paris


Global Exchange

Global Exchange is an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world.

Global Exchange is tackling some of the most critical issues of our time— from limiting corporate power and greed to oil addiction and global climate change, from the exploitation of the current global economy to the creation of the local green economy. Our campaigns inspire people across the U.S. and around the world to resist injustice, envision alternatives, and take action.

“… the group that helped put labor rights on the human rights agenda”
– Washington Post
“angry and effective” – The Economist
“a respected human rights organization” – Boston Globe
Ranked in the “Top 20 Most Trusted NGOs” – Wall Street Journal

Global Exchange programs engage grassroots and indigenous communities, elected officials, international institutions, and community leaders around the globe to address the root causes of injustice. Our work employs diverse strategies to achieve sustainable and structural change; our programs work toward policy changes and corporate accountability through grassroots education and action. As an activist resource center, we advance our vision by working to empower people locally while connecting them globally.

Public education and coalition building are central to promoting civic engagement and a strong people’s movement that can forward political, economic and environmental justice. Global Exchange is educating the public about critical global issues from a grassroots, citizen perspective.

You can join Global Exchange on-line or contact Corey Hill in Global Exchange’s Development Department at (415) 255-7296 x 208 or by e-mail at corey@globalexchange.org.

 

 


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