“Excessive violence” used against migrants by Spain and Morocco

by Lorraine Williamson
excessive violence

MADRID – The UN finds that Morocco and Spain “excessively used violence” at the border near the Melilla fence last weekend. According to official figures, 23 migrants were killed in a massive attack there. 

Moroccan and Spanish NGOs raised this sad number to 37 people who were killed as a result of clashes between the migrants and the border guards. That is why the international organisation has called for an investigation into the “violence”. 


The spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric, alluded to the event in Melilla during his daily press conference on Tuesday. He was asked about the usual reactions of “sadness” or shock of general secretary António Guterres to the events. “Now that you ask me about that, I want to express, by a term that we have already used, how shocked we were at the images of the violence we saw this weekend at the border between Morocco and Spain in North Africa [… ] Which has again led to the deaths of dozens of people, asylum seekers, and migrants,” said Dujarric. 

“Use of excessive violence” 

The spokesperson confirmed that the “use of excessive force” has been observed by the authorities. According to him, that should be investigated because it is “unacceptable”. He added that the disproportionate use of force has taken place “on both sides of the border”. 

“People on the move have human rights” 

Dujarric reminded states that “they have obligations” under international law and human rights. He stressed that the United Nations will continue to put pressure on them to respect “what many of them have agreed to in the Global Compact on Migration.” 

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See also: NATO extends protection to Ceuta and Melilla for the first time 

“People on the move have human rights, and these must be respected. We see that all too often they are not respected,” added Dujarric. 

At least 23 people were killed in an attempt by more than 2,000 migrants to jump over the Melilla fence last Friday, according to Moroccan government data. However, according to various NGOs, 37 people have lost their lives. 

The prosecutor opens an investigation 

The investigation into the events at the Melilla border has since been opened by the state attorney general. 

Division within coalition 

After the events at the Melilla fence last weekend, Unidas Podemos, the coalition partner of the PSOE government, demanded an independent investigation and condemnation of the Moroccan police action. They attribute the “tragic outcome” of the jump to the fence. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his party supported Rabat and avoided commenting on this investigation. They blamed the “international mafia” for the events. 

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