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Nils Muižnieks: “Thirty per cent of Spain’s children at risk of poverty”

Nearly one in three children in Spain are now at risk of poverty, according to the human rights commissioner.

During his visit to Spain, Nils Muižnieks learned of hungry children fainting at school and having to wear the same clothes for three weeks.

“Social protection, access to health care, adequate housing and quality education are crucial rights, protected by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the Commissioner for Human Rights declared at the end of a five day visit to Madrid and Seville. “They cannot be ignored even in times of strict austerity measures.

“All efforts should be made by the Spanish authorities to assess and limit the negative impact of budgetary cuts on the most vulnerable groups, in particular children and persons with disabilities.”

Commissioner Muižnieks also stated his concerns about the work of the police in anti-austerity demonstrations that have multiplied in Spain in the last two years. He noted that the frequently reported lack of identification of police officers during demonstrations prevents effective investigation and sanction for possible abuse.
“It is a positive step that the national police have made it now easier the identification of police officers,” he said. “This measure must be rigorously applied.”

The commissioner called on the Spanish authorities to abandon immediately the practice of granting pardon to law enforcement officials convicted for serious human rights violations, such as torture. “This practice must end as it perpetuates impunity among law enforcement officials and runs counter to European human rights standards.”

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