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15 Oct, 2022 17:48

Spain illegally removed border-riot migrants – report

The Spanish Interior Ministry insists its officers were protecting the country’s frontier from a “violent assault”
Spain illegally removed border-riot migrants – report

Spain’s civil rights ombudsman has concluded that guards improperly rejected nearly 500 migrants at its border with Morocco during a violent riot in June. 

Around 2,000 migrants stormed a border fence separating Morocco from the Spanish exclave of Melilla on June 24. While many succeeded in entering Spanish territory, Moroccan authorities said at least 23 were killed, and human rights groups accused Spanish border guards of violently removing hundreds. 

The ombudsman's report, published on Friday, sided with these groups and chastised the Spanish border police. “The institution concludes that 470 persons were turned back at the border without taking into account national and international legal provisions,” the report read. The surge of migrants, it continued, should have been processed individually rather than being rejected en masse, and Spanish authorities should have been better prepared for the “foreseeable” stampede.

The report did not suggest how the border guards could have individually processed hundreds of charging migrants.

The Interior Ministry responded by stating that border guards were responding to “violent assaults,” and that “all border rejections that took place… at the border perimeter between Melilla and Nador were carried out within the strictest legality,” Reuters reported.

The Melilla-Nador frontier is one of two land borders between Spain and Morocco, with the other separating the North African country from the enclave of Ceuta. As the EU’s only land borders with Africa, both frontiers are popular crossing spots for migrants attempting to reach Europe, and have both been the scene of mass crossing attempts in recent years. 

Friday’s report is provisional, and with human rights organizations alleging brutality by Spanish guards, the ombudsman is seeking additional footage of the riot.