CEUTA – The Ministry of the Interior has returned 45 undocumented Moroccan children without further investigating their individual cases. According to Spanish immigration law, repatriation is not allowed in that case.
A Save the Children spokesperson told the newspaper El País. Ceuta’s sub-management had instructed this NGO to investigate the individual cases and report on them. The decision whether or not to return the minors to Morocco would be based on this information.
More evictions suspended for the time being
Last Friday, the young people were expelled by the Spanish government, in consultation with the Moroccan authorities. However, on Monday afternoon, Ceuta’s court ordered the repatriations to be stopped following the Spanish Ombudsman’s request last Friday. He said the eviction was illegal. Therefore, because of the Ceuta judge’s ruling, the deportation of 15 uninvestigated minors was immediately halted for 72 hours.
Interior Minister Grande-Marlaska said in an interview on Cadena SER that the Spanish government has acted correctly. And it has gone through all the prescribed steps. To the request for an explanation from the Public Prosecution Service and the Ministry of Social Rights, the minister replied there was sufficient information available to send the young people back. Furthermore, they would themselves have indicated that they wanted to return to Morocco.
However, the public prosecutor in Ceuta maintains that there is no file known to justify the repatriation. According to the current regulations, minors must be heard in the presence of the public prosecutor. The prosecutor would then report this and included it in the file.
The UN Human Rights Committee has asked the Spanish government to stop the deportation of at least ten more Moroccan children after Save the Children requested it. Further information has also been requested on the procedure followed by the Spanish government. This is strongly questioned by UNICEF and the Ceuta District Council.
700 unaccompanied minors came to Spain
The 45 Moroccan children who have now been deported are only a small part of the more than 700 children and young people who came to Spain in May. That was possible at the time because the Moroccan authorities had opened the El Tarajal border crossing. In total, more than 10,000 undocumented migrants arrived in Spain from Morocco that month, sparking a deep diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
The conflict arose after the leader of Polisario, an independence movement seeking autonomy in Western Sahara, received medical care at a hospital in Logroño, Spain. The repatriation of the minors from Ceuta would be an agreed end to tensions between Spain and Morocco.
Last May, the board of Ceuta agreed with the aid organisation, Save the Children that the situation of each child would be assessed individually. This is also laid down in Spanish and international regulations. However, of the over 700 Moroccan children in Ceuta, so far, only 352 have been heard about their personal situation.