Spain: APDHA, EntreFronteras and the Andalusia Union of Journalists call for an end to the information blackout at the southern border


- They consider it a priority to guarantee compliance with the right to life, that rescues respect the legal requirements and that the right to information is preserved - They denounce the fact that the rescued and deceased persons have remained completely invisible

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Press release published by Associación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía on 28 January 2019.

Andalucia, 28 January 2019 - the Andalusia Association for Human Rights (Asociación pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía), EntreFronteras and the Andalusia Union of Journalists have denounced the information blackout put in place by the government with regard to the rescue of migrant persons in the Alboran Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar and call for the supply of information to be restored.

The organisations note that since 9 December 2018, the Twitter and Facebook accounts of Salvamento Maritimo (Maritime Rescue) have ceased providing information on the daily rescues carried out at sea. In this regard, they consider it a priority that this government guarantees the right to life and that rescues at sea comply with all the guarantees established in international principles, treaties and law.

Equally, they hope that this government is not acting in accordance with political strategies or specific interests and underline the need to preserve citizens' right to information. "This silence seriously damages the freedom of information recognised in Article 20 of the Spanish Constitution," they charge.

The lack of information together with the scarce data published by other sources means that even the press and media are not in the possession of information and cannot exercise their work with diligence and ease, as they have habitually done so, thus restricting a right of the citizenry.

This information blackout has been in place for more than a month, yet the Maritime Rescue boats keep arriving at the coasts of Granada, Málaga, Almería, Cádiz, Murcia, Canarias and the Balearic Islands and rescued people - and those who have died - have remained completely invisible.

On 15 December 2018, Ismael Furió, an employee of Maritime Rescue, stated to a press outlet: "I believe that what they are trying to do is dismantle the service." A month later, on 17 January 2019, Helena Maleno, a recognised and prestigious human rights activist, confirmed in an interview with Radio Andalucía Información (RAI), the already-noted and dangerous "information blackout" that has been put in place.

The organisations remind the government and the Minister of Development, responsible for Maritime Rescue, that the invisibility of this humanitarian drama reduces the number of witnesses, and further more could hide possible malpractice and, consequentially, grave violations of fundamental human rights. "Meanwhile, we continue with improvised reception and zero resources," conclude the three organisations.

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