“Poor housing, migrant workers exploited, pollution” – AI report on country

“Portugal has taken insufficient measures to improve housing conditions” – Amnesty International

The “thousands of people” living in substandard housing and the exploitation of migrant workers in the agricultural sector are problems highlighted in relation to Portugal in the Amnesty International (AI) 2022/23 report released on Tuesday.

Amnesty International’s Report 2022/23: The State of Human Rights in the World also notes that Portugal is failing to combat the climate crisis and environmental degradation.

“The (Portuguese) government has taken insufficient measures to improve housing conditions and ensure sufficient affordable housing, despite data released at the end of 2021 showing that more than 38,000 people needed housing,” the report indicates, also referring to “reports of forced evictions” that left some people homeless, a situation that, according to AI, “disproportionately affected gypsies and Afro-descendants.”

Regarding the rights of refugees and migrants,  AI recalls newspaper reports that “exposed abusive working conditions and inadequate housing” of employees in the agricultural sector in the Odemira region, mainly from South Asian countries.

“In June, the group of experts on trafficking in human beings (of the Council of Europe), which visited the country in 2021, noted that the most common type of exploitation continued to be labour exploitation, affecting especially the agricultural and catering sectors.”

The London-based organisation indicates, on the other hand, that in July 2022 and after Portugal’s periodic review, the UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women considered both legislation and services to deal with gender-based violence against women insufficient, expressing concern “about school dropout rates among gypsy girls due to child and/or forced marriages and early pregnancy”, issues that, it noted, “were often ignored by the authorities”.

On climate change, AI notes that “over 1,000 people died from causes related to extreme heat waves” in Portugal last year, as well as the fact that 60.4% of the country experienced severe drought and 39.6% extreme drought.

According to the NGO, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment said in September, after a visit to Portugal, that “the authorities needed to step up the pace of action to tackle, in particular, air pollution and waste management and prevent forest fires“.

The IA report on the past year highlights “the existence of double standards around the world on human rights and the inability of the international community to come together consistently in protecting human rights and universal values“.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created 75 years ago from the ashes of the Second World War. Its essence is the universal recognition that all people have fundamental rights and freedoms. Even if the global power dynamics are in real chaos, human rights cannot be lost in the disorder. On the other hand, it is human rights that must guide the world as increasingly unstable and dangerous contexts multiply. We cannot wait for the world to burn again,” says Agnès Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International, quoted in a statement releasing the report.

Source: Lusa