Amnesty asks government to respect human rights when hiring Cuban doctors

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Amnesty International Portugal (AI) has asked the Minister of Health to ensure that the hiring of Cuban doctors for the National Health Service (SNS) respects human rights and national sovereignty and legislation.

In a letter sent to the Minister of Health, Manuel Pizarro, AI appeals “so that the government of Portugal cannot inadvertently be an accomplice and promoter of human trafficking and / or forced labor to third parties”, in hiring Cuban doctors for the SNS.

Noting that “the practice of sending Cuban doctors to missions abroad by the Cuban State is not recent”, AI stresses that this “has been done through laws and rules of repression against health professionals, rules that are unacceptable for a rule of law”, pointing to the Cuban State’s frequent restriction of rights of health professionals sent to third countries, including freedom of expression, association or movement.

The letter, signed by the Executive Director of AI Portugal, Pedro Neto, recalls Portugal’s responsibility “to ensure that companies or States with which it enters into agreements for the provision of services or the supply of professional staff comply with human rights, with other Portuguese legislation in force with regard to the professionals who will implement these agreements in practice, and with the legislation in force in Portugal, where the provision of services is actually carried out”.

“Having understood the principle of territoriality, Portugal cannot accept the extraterritorial application of Cuban laws in our country and which, moreover, are contrary to Portuguese legislation,” it adds.

Regarding the rights of freedom of expression, association and movement, AI asks that they be guaranteed “without more limitations” than those applicable under Portuguese law, and that it rejects that a “third and non-national State or company commit any type of interference with the sovereignty of our country and the Portuguese legislation applied to other citizens and residents”.

“In Portugal, Portuguese law must be complied with and it is exclusively up to the Government, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and other authorities and judicial bodies to monitor, within the scope of their powers, this compliance. The Portuguese government cannot, itself, or even indirectly, promote the opposite”, defends AI Portugal.

The human rights organization also asks for guarantees that the agreements established do not allow any repression for the relatives in Cuba of the doctors displaced in Portugal.

“In addition to the Portuguese government being able to develop this solution in a dignified manner, it should not fail to develop other solutions and efforts to guarantee the human right of access to health in Portugal, through the training of more health professionals in our country, with more measures to retain health professionals, with the coordination and optimization of all existing health services in the country so that access to health care is effectively guaranteed as a human right. All solutions to guarantee the human right that is access to health should not imply the violation of other human rights”, concludes the letter.

The Minister of Health announced that he intends to hire between 200 and 300 doctors in Latin America, who will be employed in primary health care in regions such as Alentejo, Algarve and Lisbon Vale do Tejo.

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