Spain/Morocco: Another migrant shot dead in Melilla in July
01 October 2006
An annex to the report documenting "10 years of human rights violations on the southern border"
published by the national federation of SOS Racismo offices in the Spanish state, includes a complaint letter filed by SOS Racismo on 4 July 2006 before the Defensor del Pueblo (the Spanish ombudsman) and the answer by the ombudsman concerning two deaths during an attempt by dozens of migrants to jump the border fence in Melilla on the night of 2-3 July. In response to the demand to conduct an "exhaustive investigation into the events and circumstances surrounding these deaths, especially with regards to the actions of the Guardia Civil, in order to ascertain relevant responsibilities", the ombudsman quoted a report from the government envoy in the north African enclave-city of Melilla:
"As You indicate, at around 5:20 on the morning of 3 July , a group of sub-Saharan Africans, approximately between 50 and 70, attempted to assault the fence near to the border crossing in Farhana. Five of them managed to jump the external fence, one of whom died and another was seriously wounded. … As for the dead man, although no hypothesis can be ruled out, what seems most likely is that his death was due to a shot from a firearm, although this will not be ascertained until the autopsy is carried out.
The Guardia Civil officers deployed at the border perimeter only employ regulamentary anti-riot equipment."
This last sentence means that any firearms used must not be loaded with live ammunition.
In the letter dated 28 July 2006, the ombudsman also informed SOS Racismo that "as a result of the contents of the report" by the government envoy, "the corresponding investigation before the Fiscal General del Estado (the Spanish attorney general's office) has started, in order to learn about the judicial action that has been undertaken to ascertain the facts that have been enquired about in this complaint".
Spain: The Southern Frontier: 10 years of human rights violations
On 5 October 2006, the national federation of SOS Racismo branches published a report to document events during the ten years in which it has been monitoring human rights violation on the southern border of the Spanish state. The report includes a round-up of events involving human rights violations, including in-depth information concerning 379 "illegal" deportations of sub-Saharan Africans to Morocco carried out in the enclave city of Ceuta (three of the cases are from Melilla). The testimonies collected by SOS Racismo "demonstrate how an overwhelming number of citizens from sub-Saharan Africa were returned illegally, contravening the immigration law because, in practice, there is no legal agreement for the return of third country nationals between Morocco and the Spanish state". The report contains a detailed chronology of events in 2005-2006, round-ups of significant events from previous years (1995-2004), direct testimonies by migrants collected by SOS Racismo, as well as analysis of European and Spanish policies in this field, with a special focus on Africa. A collection of press statements issued and legal actions undertaken by SOS Racismo is included as an appendix to the report.
Moreover, the "impressive range" of human rights violations that are documented include:
- torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment;
- violence during the detention and return;
- sexual violence;
- illegal arrests;
- obstructing asylum applications;
- use of excessive force during interception.
A number of charges are levelled at the Spanish authorities, including:
- "complicity" and "co-responsibility" in human rights abuses committed by the Moroccan army and gendarmerie, among other reasons, as a result of the provision of money and material, and contravening the European Court of Human Rights' doctrine that forbids expulsion to a country where one's life may be in danger;
- violating the Spanish im