Spain and Morocco: so far no investigation to find the culprits of the 37 South Saharan immigrants who died during the clashes in Melilla in June 2022

Spain and Morocco: so far no investigation to find the culprits of the 37 South Saharan immigrants who died during the clashes in Melilla in June 2022

ROME - It was June 24, 2022 when two thousand people tried to escape from sub-Saharan Africa to enter Melilla, Spain, through the border crossing of "Barrio Chino". Moroccan and Spanish authorities tried to disperse them using riot control equipment, tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, rubber balls. 37 died, 76 are still missing today. The authorities of Spain and Morocco - Amnesty International denounces - have so far not conducted an effective independent investigation to guarantee justice. The human rights organization denounces a constant attempt to cover up evidence by both the Moroccan and Spanish governments.

They still deny responsibility. “A year after the massacre in Melilla, Madrid and Rabat not only continue to deny any responsibility but prevent any attempt to discover the truth. The bodies of the migrants still lie in morgues and efforts to identify the dead and inform their relatives have been stalled," says the secretary general of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard. “Barriers to truth and justice are a reflection of harmful treatment based on race and migration status. However, as hopes of finding the 76 missing alive dwindle, the call on the authorities to provide the truth and ensure justice for the victims and their families is growing ever stronger".

A year later. A year after the tragedy, the authorities have made no attempt to repatriate the remains of the victims and at least twenty-two bodies are still in a morgue in Morocco. Madrid and Rabat still do not provide a complete list of the names of the victims or the causes that led to the deaths, nor do they make CCTV footage available to justice that could trigger a serious investigation. They also failed to properly investigate the actions of the police, who may be responsible for committing crimes and human rights violations under international law. In December 2022, Spanish prosecutors dropped an investigation into the deaths, saying they found no evidence of criminal conduct by the national security forces. Similarly, the Moroccan authorities have not launched any investigation into the use of force by the border police and have made it virtually impossible for families and local NGOs to search for the missing and dead. Amnesty International's written requests to the Moroccan and Spanish governments to share information have so far gone unanswered.

Abuses at the border. Meanwhile, the Spanish authorities continue to carry out illegal border practices, such as collective expulsions, which often involve excessive use of force. On the Moroccan side, and as a result of migration cooperation between the two countries, the authorities continue to prevent sub-Saharan Africans from reaching Spanish territory to apply for asylum. In November 2022, Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, said that the June 2022 events in Melilla reveal the status quo of the borders of the European Union, i.e. the deadly violence act by states to keep people of African descent and non-white populations in general out.

The witness. “We are just immigrants and we are human beings, we are not animals. We need respect like everyone else,” Aboubida, a Sudanese woman who attempted to cross the border into Melilla but was beaten, tear-gassed and ultimately denied the opportunity to be seen by a doctor. “What happened in Melilla is a reminder that racist migration policies, which aim to enforce borders and limit safe and legal pathways for people seeking protection in Europe, have real and deadly consequences. It is difficult to escape the element of racism when reading about Melilla and it is difficult to escape the dehumanizing way in which black people are treated on the borders of Europe, both when they are alive, when they are missing and when they are dead." continues Agnès Callamard.

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