Four months after the Melilla tragedy, Spain is under fire from critics following the revelation of Spanish responsibility in the deaths of dozens of migrants, pinched by a shocking BBC documentary.
The BBC released an investigation on November 1 pointing the finger at Spain’s responsibility in the Melilla tragedy, which killed more than 20 migrants on June 24, 2022. The expedition sums up the proponents of this scandalous affair on the other side of the Pyrenees.
Melilla drama: 23 migrants died trying to enter the Spanish enclave
A drama in the Spanish enclave
On June 24, nearly 2,000 migrants, most of them from Sudan, attempted to enter Melilla. This enclave and that of Ceuta are Spanish port territories located in Morocco and the only territory belonging to a European country located in continental Africa. But this intrusion into this part of Spain ended in tragedy: 23 migrants lost their lives according to the Moroccan authorities. The latter then spoke of “an accident” linked to the collapse of the iron fence that the migrants had tried to climb over.
But the BBC documentary judges that Spanish and Moroccan forces collaborated and were in fact responsible for the violence and deaths that followed. Among the acts committed by the security forces, the BBC cites the “point-blank shooting of rubber bullets” by the Spanish forces. The media also highlighted a video showing “at least one dead on the ground of the entrance” at the border post that separates Morocco from the Spanish enclave “and other lifeless bodies brought out of there by the security forces. Moroccans”, while the area was under Spanish control.
Warning, some images contained in the tweet below may shock our readers.
Another video shows several migrants lying on the ground, some injured or dying, under the surveillance of the Moroccan authorities who do not provide them with any assistance. Moroccan forces are also said to have helped push 450 migrants back from the Melilla enclave to Moroccan territory and “beat the migrants to fainting”, under the passive gaze of Spanish border guards.
This footage by local journalist Javier Bernardo shows Moroccan forces entering Spanish territory to bring migrants back to Morocco, without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum.
This practice is often referred to as “push back” and its legitimacy is disputed. pic.twitter.com/AnmfSPBSIh
– BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) November 1, 2022
A political crisis in the making
These revelations contradict official Spanish positions and have sparked lively controversy on the other side of the Pyrenees. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez assured in September that the deaths had occurred on Moroccan territory. There is also no consensus on the assessment: the UN Human Rights Council mentions 37 dead, and the Moroccan Association for Human Rights 27. The BBC recorded 24 dead and 77 missing and accuses Spain of hiding videos ” crucial “to the surveillance cameras to slow down the investigation.
Spanish parliamentarians, including those from the ruling left-wing coalition, have addressed the issue. “This report is a serious blow to the official version of the facts”, estimated Jaume Asens, president of the Podemos parliamentary group. “We have to go all the way and our first requirement is the vision of these images, here in the Chamber, and the urgent appearance of the Minister [de l’Intérieur]“, For his part, he launched Cuca Gamarra, the number two of the Popular Party, the main opposition force.
Accusations “without any evidence” according to the authorities
The Spanish Interior Ministry counterattacked a statement on November 2, deeming it “disappointing and surprising that allegations of this gravity are made without any evidence”. According to the same press release, “absolutely no one, both the Civil Guard [espagnole]The police station [marocaine]the prosecution or the Defender of Rights claims only that the deaths occurred in Spanish territory “.
The ministry reiterates that the Spanish guards acted “proportionately and in accordance with the law” in the face of a “violent assault”. According to AFP, the BBC maintained its claims after the statement was released.