Spain: Huge funding increase for migration control in Africa challenged in court

Spain's government has massively stepped up funding for African states for migration control purposes in recent years. €30 million provided to Morocco is being challenged in court.

Spanish government funding for African states to assist in migration control initiatives increased by 243% between 2017 and 2019, from €13.3 million to €45.9 million, according to a report in El País.

The expenditure is aimed at covering the costs, either in whole or in part, of coast guards and security forces in Morocco, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, and the Gambia, with the aim of preventing people from reaching Spanish territory.

Spanish funding for migration control by African states' authorities began following the so-called 'canoe crisis' of 2006, when large numbers of people began to arrive in the Canary Islands, travelling on small boats from the African mainland.

The government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE, who are also currently in power in a coalition with Unidas Podemos) signed agreements with countries such as Mauritania and Senegal, from where people were starting their journeys.

In 2019, Spanish funds for Morocco began to increase massively, reaching a total of over €32 million in 2019. Now, that spending is being challenged in court by a coalition of civil society organisations who argue that it is "an improper use of the Contingency Fund, which is earmarked for 'urgent and unforeseeable' crises."

As highlighted by Access Info:

"The organisations state that the reason for the litigation is to ensure that any spending on the control of migration is based on criteria of respect for human rights and is done with full transparency and in compliance with the rule of law.

In this case accountability to the public is especially important as the funds will be used by the Moroccan authorities which have, on various occasions, been accused of abusive treatment of migrants, something that has been documented by a number of Spanish and international human rights and migration organisations, including one of the parties in this case, Andalucía Acoge."

The organisations bringing the legal challenge, which will be heard by the Supreme Court next year, are also calling on the Spanish government to make sure that "migration control policies do not include externalisation of border control, and to ensure that the police and other law enforcement bodies always respect human rights."

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