Spain: Constitutional Court Ruling On Exclusion of Undocumented Migrants From Health Services Ignores Human Rights Obligations

PRESS RELEASE


The Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), Amnesty International, Médicos del Mundo, Red Acoge, REDER and semFYC reiterate that the Royal Decree 16/2012 contravenes international human rights norms and standards, and is regressive with regard to the right to health.

Madrid/New York, 4 August de 2016: The Center for Economic and Social Rights, Amnesty International, Médicos del Mundo, Red Acoge, la Red de Denuncia y Resistencia al RDL 16/2012 (REDER) and the Spanish Society for Family and Community Medicine (semFYC) voice their concern over the judgement issued by the Constitutional Court of Spain last week which upholds Royal Decree 16/2012 (RDL 16) and confirms the exclusion of undocumented migrants from free access to health services.

The organizations regret the Constitutional Court’s decision to ignore international human rights treaties and recommendations issued by regional and international human rights mechanisms, especially given that the Spanish Constitution itself requires that the rights it contains be interpreted in the light of international treaties. On the contrary, the Constitutional Court ruling gives carte blanche for fundamental rights to be shaped according to the government’s general economic criteria.

The Constitutional Court, through this ruling, legitimizes the health reform under the premise of the existence of a “situation of urgent and extreme necessity” and of “grave economic difficulty without precedents since the creation of the National Health System”. In this sense, and without reference to the requirements of which Spain has been reminded on repeated occasions by both European and United Nations human rights bodies, the Court has considered it proportional to limit access to free health care for undocumented migrants – a sector that is among the most vulnerable in society – with the objective, according to the ruling, of preserving and maintaining the public health system. In this way, it consecrates a regressive vision, without sufficient justification, of the right to health in Spain.

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