In a joint press release published on 22 September, 77 NGOs in Spain including ECRE member CEAR voiced their firm rejection of the practice of pushbacks at the southern border in Ceuta and Melilla  and demanded that the Acting Home Affairs Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz provides a full explanation of the facts occurred during 10 September 2016.

Melilla by Fronterasur (2007). Some rights reserved.

Melilla by Fronterasur (2007). Some rights reserved.

On that day, 239 people attempted to jump the border fence into Ceuta – one of the Spanish enclaves on Moroccan territory. 40 people who managed to reach Spanish territory were immediately pushed back into Morocco by Spanish police, while others were seriously hurt during the attempt and had to be transported to the hospital.

UNHCR Spain immediately condemned the events of 10 September and reiterated that access to international protection should not be granted only to those who enter a country regularly. The possibility to claim asylum is a right under international law and it should be granted to anyone, without prejudice to the manner in which a person entered a country, the press release states.

Furthermore, the Spanish Ombudsman publicly stated that national and international law do not allow automatic push backs which dot not guarantee a proper screening of the individual circumstances of each person.

In line with their objections, the joint press release reminds that the amendments to the Aliens Act legislation, aimed at legalising the practice of push-backs of migrants arriving in Ceuta and Melilla, are in clear breach of human rights law.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 September 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.