Tagged: women´s rights

The Treatment of Migrant Women in the Spanish Detention Centers for Foreigners

Pro Igual´s Intervention at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Working Session 3: Violence Against Women

The following are the summary and recommendations of the joint report by Spanish NGOs Pro Igual and Ferrocarril Clandestino on the situation of migrant women in Spanish Detention Centers for Foreigners. The full report is available here.

Detention Centers for Foreigners are prisons in all but a name. Both governmental institutions and civil society have decried the appalling conditions and violations of human rights there. What is important to note is that detainees have not committed any crime, but merely an administrative infraction of not having papers in order, which presents less danger for the public than incorrect parking.

While both men and women face violations of their human rights, female detainees face a number of specific concerns. These include: sexual harassment by the guards; ill-treatment of pregnant and breastfeeding women; separation of mothers from minor children; lack of access to general medical and gynecological care, and lack of adequate nutrition even for pregnant women. Victims of human trafficking get no support whatsoever, even though they may be eligible for residence on humanitarian grounds.

Many migrant women end up in detention centers because of police raids based on the controversial practice of ethnic profiling, condemned by a number of international human rights bodies.

On the basis of these findings, we would like to recommend to the Spanish authorities the following:

  • Human rights NGOs and monitors should be allowed to enter detention centers and privately interview inmates – this is often sabotaged by the centers´ directors.
  • All personnel of the detention centers must wear visible identification badges and face sanctions for failure to comply.
  • All allegations of ill-treatment, especially sexual abuse of female inmates, by the guards must be investigated and prosecuted.
  • All inmates should have access to independent legal counsel, and translation if necessary.
  • The authorities should declare a temporary moratorium on expulsions of migrant women, pending the review of their cases.
  • Women detainees in particular should have gender-sensitive healthcare and adequate nutrition.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should under no circumstances be detained or separated from their children and families.
  • Suspected victims of human trafficking should receive necessary legal, medical and other assistance.
  • The authorities should decisively end ethnic profiling practices by the police.

Pro Igual and Ferrocarril Clandestino present a communication to the UN Commision on Women

FERROCARRIL

Within the framework of our work on the rights of (undocumented) migrants in Spain, Pro Igual has cooperated with Ferrocarril Clandestino and presented a joint communication to the UN Commission on the Status of Women on the Human Rights Violations of Migrant Women in Spain: Detention in CIEs.

The communication draws the UN Comission´s attention to singling out of migrant women through ethnic profiling and disproportionate use of deprivation of liberty for migrant women for mere administrative infractions, such as not having paperwork in order. Migrant women in CIEs suffer a range of human rights abuses, ranging from absent due process or legal counsel, to discrimination and sexual harassment, to separation from families and small children and lack of healthcare even for pregnant women.

Pro Igual and Ferrocarril Clandestino put forth recommendations to the Spanish authorities to remedy this situation.

The text of the submission is available here.

Spain Supreme Court Strikes down City Burqa Ban

burka

[JURIST] The Spanish Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] on Thursday struck down [judgement, PDF, in Spanish; press release, in Spanish] a city ban on wearing veils over the face in municipal buildings, finding that the law infringes on religious freedom. The city of Lleida, in Catalonia, was the first Spanish city to impose such a ban, but only about 3 percent of its population is Muslim. The city law was previously upheld [JURIST report] by a Spanish appeals court which found that the law was permissible for identification and security purposes. In its ruling, the Supreme Court found that the city of Lleida had not adequately established that the ban on veils would improve security and that the law prevented individuals from practicing religious traditions.

Burqas and other symbols of Islam have been a controversial subject in Europe. In July the Netherlands announced that a ban on burqas would go forward [JURIST report] later this year. Proponents of the Netherlands ban said the purpose was to stop people from being able to commit crimes and remain undetected by concealing their identities and covering their faces. Belgium officially banned [JURIST report] burqas in July 2011. France’s ban on burqas took effect [JURIST report] in April 2011. Swiss voters approved a proposal to ban the construction of minarets [JURIST report] in November 2009, and the vote was subsequently upheld [JURIST report] in the European Court of Human Rights [official website] in July 2011. Some commentators have suggested that the rationales behind the European burqa bans are weak [JURIST op-ed] and that the true purpose of the bills is societal discomfort.

CIDH Pro Igual es Asociación sin ánimo de lucro registrada en el Ministerio del Interior con el nº 595496.