Spain: Report denounces the radicalisation of policies that violate fundamental rights at Spain's southern border

Report denounces the radicalisation of policies that violate fundamental rights at Spain's southern border
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Press release published by the Andalucian Association for Human Rights (Associación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía, APDHA) on 29 March 2017. Emphasis in original.
APDHA denounces the radicalisation of policies that violate fundamental rights at the southern border
  • During 2016 deaths increased 34% at European coasts and 125% at Spanish coasts

Andalucia, 29 March 2017 - The Andalucian Association for Human Rights has today presented at a press conference its report 'Human Rights at the Southern Border 2017', in which it denounces the radicalisation of Spanish and EU policies that violate human rights and contravene international law. The organisation highlights that "migratory policies have become an implacable machine for generating suffering, provoking deaths and systematically violating the human rights of migrants and refugees."

An outcome of this, says the organisation, is the "huge increase" during 2016 in the number of people who have died trying to reach European coasts - 34% higher than in 2015 - and Spanish coasts, 125% more than just two years ago. "It is profoundly despicable that the Spanish management of migratory flows is sold as a success story when it includes hundreds of dead and disappeared," says the APDHA.

Another of the great "black holes" in the ranking of violations in Spain, they argue, is the existence of eight detention centres (Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros or CIEs), where people who have not committed any crime are incarcerated. According to Interior Ministry statistics, during the past year only 29% of people interned in CIEs were expelled from the country. "It is a useless mechanism that only serves as a tool of repression and punishment," says the organisation.

The situation is "if possible, even more scandalous in some CIEs, such as the one in Algeciras," whose installations are "horrifying," according to the city's Fiscal Extranjeria [Foreign Attorney, a state official responsible for prosecuting crimes such as trafficking and smuggling; determining the age of unaccompanied minors; and investigating detention centres]. In 2010, the Ombudsman's Office called for the centre's closure due to its "absolutely inadequate" installations in a "more-than-deficient state of conservation and with lamentable hygiene." Circumstances are no better in the CIE in Tarifa, denounced by the APDHA, where there are cells with holes in the floor, exposed to the view of everyone, that serve as toilets.

For ADPHA, "extreme depths have been reached in the violation of human rights: refugees are criminalised, migrants are represented as a threat and state security forces are given carte blanche to violently reprimand them with hot returns [pushbacks across the border], the exercise of rights such as the right to asylum, the right to non-refoulement, the prohibition on collective deportations and the protection of minors and potential victims of trafficking."

In the report, that gathers information from months of investigation in the field as well as the work of numerous public and private organisations carried out with migrants in Andalucia, Ceuta, Tangiers and Melilla, the opinions of migrants waiting in the forests of Morocco near the border are detailed. They live in fear of aggression from the Moroccan police, who every so often beat them and burn their few possessions. These migrants wonder, given that since their countries were - and still are - plundered and colonised by Europe and its businesses, why they are not allowed to enter and seek a future despite the existence of a legitimate debt.

Before this reality, the Andalucian Association for Human Rights, as well as denouncing the different ways in which governments promote and violate human rights, calls for the respect of the rights of people at the southern frontier, compliance with international law and the establishment of safe routes so that those fleeing - from war, hunger, or by their own decision - can find a future with having to risk their life doing so.

Unofficial translation by Statewatch. The full report, Derechos Humanos en la Frontera Sur 2017, can be downloaded from APDHA here (link to pdf, Spanish only).

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