A coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs, including ECRE Member CEAR, wrote an open letter to Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish Minister of the Interior this week. In the letter the coalition demands clarification over the potential push backs of over 1000 people at the Spanish-Moroccan land border Ceuta in the beginning of this year and the orders given to the Spanish Border Guards.

Following media reports, an estimated 1,100 people tried to climb over the border fence between the Spanish enclave Ceuta and Morocco at 4am at New Year’s Day. From the total amount of people only two persons entered Spanish territory, being severely injured and treated in the hospital. The remaining people were returned to Morocco.

Spain reformed its Aliens Law March 2015, allowing authorities to reject third-country nationals that are found crossing the country’s borders irregularly. The law was passed amid heavy criticism by the Council of Europe and UNHCR, who warned that the reform would infringe on the right of an individual to seek asylum safeguarded by European and International Law. This criticism equally formed the subject of N.D. and N.T. v. Spain, a case against Spain currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights.

Esteban Beltran, Director of Amnesty International commented on the last incident of push-backs: “Spain has the dubious honor of being placed in a group of countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey, which carry out hot expulsions, violating international law and preventing people fleeing war and persecution from accessing international protection to which they have the right.”

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