After the African Union (AU), it is the turn of the UN to call on June 28 for an independent investigation after the tragic events on the Moroccan border in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on June 24.
“We call on both countries [le Maroc et l’Espagne] to guarantee the holding of an effective and independent investigation, the first step in determining the circumstances in which there were deaths and injuries as well as all the possible responsibilities”, declared in Geneva a spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. human rights, Ravina Shamdasani.
At least 23 migrants have indeed perished and 140 police officers have been injured, according to the Moroccan authorities, during an attempt to bring some 2,000 migrants into Melilla. This toll is the deadliest recorded during the many attempts by sub-Saharan migrants to enter Melilla and the neighboring Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
On June 26, the head of the African Union Commission, the Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat, denounced “the violent and degrading treatment of African migrants” also calling for an investigation into this tragedy. “I express my deep emotion and concern at the violent and degrading treatment of African migrants seeking to cross an international border between Morocco and Spain,” Moussa Faki tweeted.
“I call for an immediate investigation into this case and remind all countries of their obligations under international law to treat all migrants with dignity and to put their safety and human rights first, while curbing any excessive use of force,” added the head of the AU Commission.
2/2: I call for an immediate investigation into the matter and remind all countries of their obligations under international law to treat all migrants with dignity and to prioritize their safety and human rights, while refraining from the use of excessive force.
— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) June 26, 2022
In a tweet, the Kenyan Ambassador to the UN Martin Kimani announced that at the initiative of his country, supported by Gabon and Ghana – the two other African countries currently non-permanent members of the Security Council, that was going to hold a meeting behind closed doors on the violent repression of migrants.
The facts will be examined on June 29 by the UN Security Council. According to diplomats, the session was originally planned for June 27 but was eventually pushed back.
65 migrants prosecuted by Morocco
For the time being, the Moroccan justice system has decided to prosecute 65 migrants for having participated in the forced passage attempt, AFP learned on June 27 from a defense lawyer.
The prosecution of the court of first instance in the Moroccan city of Nador (north), bordering Melilla, charged 37 migrants with “illegal entry on Moroccan soil”, “violence against law enforcement officers”, “armed crowd” and “refusal to comply,” their lawyer Khalid Ameza told AFP.
A second group, made up of 28 migrants, will be tried for “participation in a criminal gang to organize and facilitate illegal immigration abroad”, added Khalid Ameza.
The lawyer clarified that the majority of the defendants were from Darfur, in western Sudan, in the grip of a serious food crisis and where recent violence has left more than 125 dead and caused the displacement of 50,000 people. Others are Chadians and Malians, one of them is Yemeni.
Spain, through the spokeswoman for the Spanish executive Isabel Rodríguez, for its part hailed on June 27 the “collaboration”” of Rabat “in the defense of [ses] borders”.
“The government deeply regrets the loss of life,” she told a press conference, adding that “international mafias engaged in human trafficking” were to blame for the deaths. a message already forcefully hammered home on June 25 by the head of government, the socialist Pedro Sanchez.
The Moroccan authorities assure that the deceased died “in jostling and falling from the iron fence[lors d’]an assault marked by the use of very violent methods by the migrants”. Migrants interviewed in Melilla by AFP, however, said they were beaten by Moroccan security forces, but also by members of the Spanish security forces after crossing the metal fence separating Melilla from Morocco.