Rights groups call for probe into deaths during Melilla crossing | Refugees News

Human rights groups in Morocco and Spain have called for an investigation into the deaths of 23 people during an attempted mass crossing into the Spanish enclave of Melilla in northern Africa.

Authorities said the individuals died on Friday as a result of a “stampede” after about 2,000 people tried to climb the iron fence that separates Morocco and Melilla, with some falling in the attempt.

The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), in a series of tweets on Saturday, called for a “comprehensive, quick and serious” investigation into Friday’s events and published videos of the aftermath of the attempted mass crossing.

The footage showed dozens of people lying by the border fence, some bleeding and many apparently lifeless as Moroccan security forces stood over them. In one of the clips, a Moroccan security officer appeared to use a baton to strike a person lying on the ground.

The AMDH said many of those wounded “were left there without help for hours, which increased the number of deaths”.

It also gave a higher death toll than the figure provided by the Moroccan interior ministry, saying 29 people were killed, but the figure could not be immediately confirmed.

Five rights organisations in Morocco and APDHA, a human rights group based in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, also backed the call for a probe. They urged authorities not to bury those killed until after formal investigations.

There was no immediate comment from authorities in Morocco on AMDH’s allegations, but an unnamed Moroccan official told the Reuters news agency that security personnel had not used undue force during Friday’s events.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez meanwhile condemned the attempted mass crossing as a “violent assault” and an “attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain.

“If there is anyone responsible for everything that appears to have taken place at that border, it is the mafias that traffic in human beings,” he said.

A Spanish police source told Reuters the people who tried to cross the fence had used sticks, knives and acid against security forces and had changed tactics to try crossing at one perceived weak spot en masse, rather than in separate attempts along the fence.

Some 133 people made it across the border, while 176 Moroccan security officers and 49 Spanish border guards sustained injuries, authorities say.

‘Profound sadness’

Ousmane Ba, a Senegalese asylum seeker on the Moroccan side who runs a community group to help others like him, said the violence followed days of rising tension in the area.

Ba, who neither took part in Friday’s incident nor witnessed it, said asylum seekers living nearby had clashed several times with Moroccan security forces while trying to cross the fence earlier this week.

Many of them are living rough in the countryside nearby and were desperate, he said. “I have never seen migrants attacking this violently. We deplore the deaths near the fence,” he said.

A border fence in Melilla, Spain
The fence separating Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla [Jose Colon/AP Photo]

Amnesty International issued a statement saying it was deeply…

Read More: Rights groups call for probe into deaths during Melilla crossing | Refugees News

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Live News

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.