Melilla border crush: Amnesty criticizes “unlawful violence” and lack of first aid | Spain

The “widespread use of unlawful force” by Moroccan and Spanish authorities reportedly contributed to the deaths of at least 37 people in a mass storm on the border fence between Morocco and the North African enclave of Melilla in June.

Amnesty International’s report accuses Moroccan and Spanish police of failing to provide even basic first aid to the injured because they were “exposed to full sunlight for up to eight hours”. It said Moroccan authorities have prioritized the transport of bodies and the treatment of security officials over the needs of injured migrants and refugees.

“Spanish police did not allow the Red Cross to enter the area and there was no response from the local public health sector to attend to any casualties either during the attempted border crossing and police operation or afterwards,” the report said.

“The Spanish authorities have not assisted in any way the injured who were left on Spanish territory after the end of the police operation and violated their rights in many ways, including their right to prompt and adequate medical attention and to be protected from torture and other diseases – Treatment.”

According to Amnesty, the failure to provide assistance was not only cruel, but shows that Spain and Morocco have failed in their obligations to protect the right to life.

Spain has stated that there have been no fatalities on its territory and that Civil Guard officers have acted “entirely within the law and with the necessary proportionality that the events require”. But it has confirmed that officers used 86 tear gas canisters, 28 smoke canisters, 65 rubber bullets, 270 warning shots and 41 cans of pepper spray to try to push the crowds back.

Morocco claims its officers acted “with a high degree of control and professionalism” and said some of those who stormed the fence were armed with sticks, machetes, stones and knives.

The NGO researchers – who interviewed survivors, witnesses, officials and healthcare workers – concluded that crimes under international law were committed on June 24 and the actions of police from both countries resulted in the deaths of at least 37 people and dozens more contributed to injuries.

However, the true death toll could be much higher: 77 people who tried to make the crossing that day remain missing and their families still have no news of them.

The official version of events has already been challenged in investigations by the BBC Africa Eye, Lighthouse Reports, a fact-finding mission by Spanish MPs and the Spanish Ombudsman.

Amnesty is calling on Spain and Morocco to ensure “independent and impartial investigations” into the June 24 events are carried out to ensure those who broke the law are brought to justice.

She is also calling for inquiries into the lack of medical supplies and has urged authorities in the countries to help the families of the missing and dead by locating and repatriating bodies.

In October, a UN working group of experts on people of African descent said the deaths in Melilla were evidence of “racial exclusion and deadly force used to keep people of African and Middle Eastern descent out”. The UN Committee on Migrant Workers also called on Spain and Morocco to conduct thorough investigations into the incidents.

In June, Spain’s Supreme Court upheld the closure of an investigation into the deaths of 14 people who drowned in the sea off Spain’s other North African enclave of Ceuta in 2014 after Civil Guard officers opened fire with rubber bullets and tear gas.

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