Spain and Morocco accused of excessive force and give false information

by Lorraine Williamson
Spain and Morocco accused by Amnesty International

Amnesty International accuses Spain and Morocco of several crimes on the day 1,700 migrants stormed the Melilla border. Security services allegedly used unnecessary and excessive force and spread false information about the events. 

On June 24, 2022, up to 1,700 mostly African migrants attempted to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla. At least 23 migrants died on this day. Shortly after these events, accusations were already being made against Spanish and Moroccan security services. Following a BBC documentary, more questions have arisen about whether or not the relevant security services acted adequately. 

Spain and Morocco used excessive force 

Furthermore, Amnesty International recently released its own investigative report. This stated that agents from both countries allegedly used ‘unlawful and excessive force’, that the Guardia Civil allegedly tortured the migrants and that there was insufficient medical assistance offered to the migrants. 

Spain is also said to have broken the law when it sent 470 migrants back to Morocco. International law prohibits countries from returning people to areas where they could be in danger. Finally, the human rights organisation questions whether the 61 people detained in Morocco, who have since been sentenced to two or three years in prison, received a fair trial. 

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Spain and Morocco defend their approach 

Spain’s Ministry of the Interior says it has great respect for the work the organisation usually delivers. However, in this case, the department of Minister Grande-Marlaska completely disagrees with these “false and very serious” accusations made by Amnesty International. Both the governments of Morocco and Spain defend their approach and say that the group of migrants used violence against the security services. For example, Morocco claims that 140 Moroccan officers and 55 vigilantes were injured. 

Still, Amnesty maintains that the use of so much force by Spanish and Moroccan troops was unnecessary. Also, that they seemingly continued to use force even after the situation was under control and the migrants no longer a threat. Both countries also failed to provide medical aid. This is according to the organisation. Therefore, so many people may not have died if the security services had deployed medical aid. 

Uncertainty about the fate of ‘disappeared migrants’ 

According to the human rights group, it is also questionable whether ‘only’ 23 migrants died. Amnesty is experiencing a lack of transparency in both Moroccan and Spanish intelligence services. Since June 24, there are 77 migrants who have not been heard from since the day in question. The lack of official information about what happened that day, and how many people actually died, is very worrying, according to the organisation. 

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