On 6 February 2014 Spanish border police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a group of migrants who were swimming from Morocco towards the Tarajal beach on the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. Fourteen migrants died. Those who managed to reach the beach were immediately returned to Morocco. According to international law they should have been given the chance to apply for asylum and given a fair hearing.
“This massive violation of human rights must finally be properly investigated and we must make sure that they are not repeated,” says JRS Europe senior policy officer, Mr Stefan Kessler.
Throughout 2014, many others have been returned to Morocco by Spain in the same way, using the so-called “hot returns” or pushbacks. Currently, Spain is trying to modify its legislation to legalize such practices.
“European border control cannot be made at any cost. The reform proposed by the Spanish government represents an abandonment of human rights and a failure to sustain principles of human dignity and justice. The reform would also violate EU law which expressly prohibits collective returns. The reform process must be stopped now,” says SJM lawyer and advocacy officer Cristina Manzanedo.
State violence against unarmed migrants on the Spanish-Morocco border is unacceptable and must end immediately. Effective training and safeguards must be put in place for Spanish and Moroccan border police.
At the same time, European Union member states must urgently act to create more safe and legal ways for people fleeing conflict to reach Europe. There are a range of practical and effective measures that could be put in place to ensure this, as presented our policy paper on the issue developed with six other Christian NGOs.
We call on EU Institutions and Member States to value human life over border control.
Safe and Legal Ways to Europe Policy Paper
JRS-SJM report – Lives at the Southern Borders/Vidas en la Frontera
For further information:
Oscar Spooner – Communications Officer
JRS Europe, Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 250 3225+32 2 250 3225
Cristina Manzanedo – Advocacy Officer
SJM, Madrid, Spain
Tel: +34 670 732 575+34 670 732 575
The reform proposed by the Spanish government represents an abandonment of human rights and a failure to sustain principles of human dignity and justice.