Spanish authorities have been roundly criticised by the UN after a video emerged showing an immigrant being beaten up and dumped back in Morocco when he attempted to scale a fence into the enclave of Melilla.
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has voiced concerns that the rights of those jumping the fences into Melilla and Ceuta, the two Spanish territories on the North African coastline, are not being respected, The Local has reported.
“Whatever their reasons for trying to enter, these people must be respected and these images show that some parties are not acting as they should… There are people beating those who are on the fence,” Maria Jesus Vega, the spokeswoman in Spain for the UNHCR told the AFP news agency.
Vega said that she was “worried” by video footage published by the human rights group Prodein, which shows a number of immigrants attempting to scale the fence into Melilla on October 15th. One migrant, later identified by Prodein as a Cambodian man named Danny, is beaten by the border guards and carried, apparently unconscious, back across the border to be dumped on Moroccan soil.
José Palazón, president of Prodein, told Spanish news website Ideal.es that he had had a brief telephone discussion with Danny, who had survived the beating, but was urinating blood. There had been rumours that the beating was fatal. He had been given painkillers for pain relief, but it was not clear whether he was being treated in a hospital or had returned to Mount Gurugú, a forested area where many African migrants are camped out before attempting to cross into Europe. A number of people were rounded up from the camp recently and bussed to the Moroccan city of Fez.
Vega’s office have released a statement regarding the incident expressing concern that Spanish police are denying “asylum procedures to people in need of international protection, who come to Spain’s southern border fleeing war and persecution”, and urged Spain to take all “necessary measures to prevent this kind of situation from occurring again at Spain’s borders”.
Prodein and other human rights groups have regularly criticised the actions of Spanish border guards in returning migrants to Morocco after they have stepped foot on Spanish soil, in contravention with national and international laws which stipulate that the migrants must be identified and due process obeyed once they have made the crossing.
However, the Spanish governmental delegation in Melilla has defended the actions of the Civil Guard, justifying the action by highlighting the increasing aggression on the part of the migrants trying to breach the fence. Several guards were injured just last week when a number of migrants attempted to break through. Last Monday, at least 60 sub-Saharan Africans succeeded in forcing their way across the border, according to newspaper El Pais.