Statewatch News Online: Spain-Morocco: Appeal highlights the human rights implications of the transfer of responsibility for immigration controls to third countries

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Appeal highlights the human rights implications of the transfer of responsibility for immigration controls to third countries

SOS Racismo and the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) issued an appeal on 17 February 2005 (see below) in relation to the violation of the rights of would-be migrants at the hands of the Moroccan military near to the Moroccan-Spanish border close to the Spanish North African city of Ceuta.

A report published by the two organisations on 14 February 2005 claims that the Moroccan military are carrying out raids on camps where sub-Saharan Africans wait to attempt to cross the border into Europe. In one such raid, around 600 members of the military reportedly entered the camp at 6 o'clock in the morning, in an operation that lasted the entire morning during which they detained migrants to deport them and took valuables from them. A further raid took place when migrants who had fled returned to camp, resulting in more detentions. If detained, migrants either face deportation, or spending time in Tetuán prison in northern Morocco. In the evening, the migrants, who included young children, re-grouped, after a day without access to food or water due to the presence of the military. When they heard that the military would conduct another raid, they went to sleep in the nearby hills, where they were rained on and experienced extremely cold conditions. The raids continued on the following morning and afternoon, and also took place in the hills, resulting in the arrest of several persons set to be deported to Oujda before being sent to Algeria. Migrants fear this deportation, as conditions are deemed to be harsh in Algerian camps, where 20 Africans have reportedly died since a recent wave of cold weather began. There were also reports that five Congolese migrants may have died in an effort to swim across the border into Ceuta. The report highlights that Congo is a war-torn country, noting that many migrants flee from unbearable situations, and that their deaths result not only from the "perverse" activities of people traffickers, but also from the EU's migration policies.

The authors of the report also wonder whether the recent operations by the Moroccan military are a result of complaints filed against the Guardia Civil (Spain's paramilitary police force) with regards to deportations to Morocco, which claim that Africans who had already filed asylum applications had been deported, and that migrants had been ill-treated or tortured during the deportations. Testimonies made by migrants indicated that the Guardia Civil now treated them with greater respect on the border in Ceuta, although they felt that it was now up to the Moroccan military to ill-treat them, "coming with people who steal from us, and they steal from us as well, if you pay them they don't deport you… we thought things were changing, but it is worse now, because this is being done in a country without human rights, here we can't even report anything".

SOS Racismo and the APDHA call for:

1) Moroccan authorities to stop the operations to seek and detain African migrants;

2) Spanish authorities to ensure that their good relations with Morocco should not see black African migrants becoming sacrificial victims, and that their right to seek asylum should be upheld;

3) European authorities to acknowledge their responsibilities for offering third countries, where human rights are not guaranteed, money to control immigration flows;

4) An investigation to be carried out by the UN on the land borders in Ceuta and Melilla (the other Spanish North African enclave), which should also examine the actions by Spanish and Moroccan security forces in relation to migrants from black Africa.

[Unofficial Statewatch translation of the appeal]


The situation on the southern border, between Spain and Morocco, is already unbearable. As a result of the increased presence of the Moroccan military following conversations held with Spanish authorities, people who seek to apply for asylum on European territory, minors, women and many others who look for a future that is less unjust, are currently dying, because the military camps that have been set up don't allow them access to food or water. If they are intercepted, they are deported to Oujda, on the Algerian border, where they are dying of cold and living in terrible conditions.

For this reason, we are issuing an urgent call to all the Institutions and International Organisations, for them to intervene in this tragedy, and to allow human rights to be respected.

Madrid, 17.2.2005

Appeal issued by: SOS Racismo and Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía.

For further information, you may call the following telephone numbers: 0034 91 5592906 or 0034 627 544592.

"La frontera sur de Europa es otro muro de la vergüenza", 14.2.2005, (in Spanish, Word) report by the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía ( and the Federación de Asociaciones de SOS RACISMO del Estado Español (

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