In its annual report on migrant detention in 2018 entitled “Discriminación De Origen”, the Servicio Jesuita A Migrantes in Spain (SJME) denounces the discriminatory treatment of people because of their nationality and calls for abolishing migrant detention centres.

The report summarize the findings of visits to five migrant detention centres (Centro de internameinto de Extranjeros, CIE) in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Algerciras and Tarifa. It also analyses the number of people detained in CIEs in 2018, their origin and grounds for detaining them as well data on returns and expulsions. The final section displays the structural deficiencies of the detention system and implicated rights violations.

Overall, 7,855 persons, 7,676 men and 179 women, were detained in 2019. A striking finding of the report is that over two thirds of people detained in CIEs came from Algeria (32%) or from Morocco (36%). 70% of people in the centres were detained to be returned for reasons of “illegal entry by boat”. 15% of people were detained to be expulsed for reasons of “irregular stay”. Overall in 2018, 7,203 people were returned and 4,181 people were expulsed, adding up to an increase in forced repatriations of 2,058 compared to 2017.

SJME raises concern over the failure of the detention system to identify persons with special vulnerabilities and discriminatory treatment of people with Moroccan and Algerian nationality. They are much less likely to have access to temporary reception centres (CATE) and humanitarian services, which should be available for all vulnerable people and potential refugees, regardless of their nationality, SJME notes.

Although a number of watchdogs and civil society organisation document an incremental improvements regarding living conditions and rights guarantees in the facilities, SJME stresses that the abolishment of administrative detention and the closure of the CIEs must remain the fundamental demand.

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Photo: SJME

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