MADRID – Instead of going through the legal procedures, two minor migrants were handed over directly to the Moroccan border police by the Spanish Guardia Civil. The two were arrested while attempting to climb onto a ferry to Spain.
According to the newspaper El País, several NGOs declare that on November 28, the Guardia Civil of Ceuta deported two minor migrants aged 15 and 16 to Morocco. The NGOs support the underage Moroccans and take the matter seriously. The two were deported without going through the applicable legal procedures. In addition, they were part of a larger group of 12 boys, whose repatriation was still blocked by the Ceuta judge in mid-August.
NGOs label expulsion as ‘unlawful’
“What happened here is beyond limits,” said Lourdes Reyzábal, president of the aid organisation Fundación Raices. He was the first to release the news of the eviction. This time again, immigration policy is placed above child protection law. Once again, the government is ignoring the procedures laid down in legislation regarding the repatriation of minor migrants.
The Ministry of the Interior refutes criticism
The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, defends the implemented immigration policy. “The Guardia Civil complies with the law, has complied with the law, and will always comply with the law.” The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations said in a statement that on the day the NGOs denounced the eviction, the Guardia Civil of Tarajal (the rocky beach that separates Spain from Morocco) saw a group of migrants swim towards the beach from Moroccan waters. After the migrants had reached the coast, they were intercepted by the Guardia Civil. According to the version of the ministry, it concerned three Moroccan men of age who were eventually handed over to the Moroccan border police.
NGO version differs from Guardia Civil version
However, according to the NGOs, the Guardia Civil intercepted the two boys and a friend in the port of Ceuta. Therefore, they were already on Spanish territory. From the water, they tried to climb onto the Transmediterránea ferry. After the boys were arrested, they were immediately handed over by the Guardia Civil. Then, still in their wet clothes, to the Moroccan border police. Patricia Fernández Vicens, one of the boys’ lawyers, finds the Civil Guard version incompatible with the youth’s statements and suspects the Ministry of distorting the facts.
NGOs take legal action
After aid organisations Fundación Raices and Coordinadora de Barrios heard the news of the deportation, they immediately went to court and lodged their complaint with the Ministry of the Interior, youth protection, the juvenile court, and the ombudsman. The NGOs want the ‘mandatory formalities’ to be followed so that the minor migrants can return to Spanish territory ‘immediately’.
According to statements by several minor migrants, this case is not an isolated case. Authorities that are locally involved also indicate that this is not an incident. In recent months, several evictions are said to have taken place without the legal procedures having been completed.