Left MEPs on a mission this week to shed light on the asylum-seeker deaths on 24 June at the Spanish-Moroccan border in Melilla, have been denied access by Moroccan authorities at the Nador border crossing point.
The MEPs started their mission in Melilla on 19 September, where they met with authorities dealing with asylum, NGOs and other stakeholders linked to the 24th June incident. In order to look into the deadly events, the delegation was supposed to cross into Morocco on 20 September, to meet notably with some survivors of the 24th June, the Moroccan association of Human Rights (AMDH), UNHCR and the EU delegation on the Moroccan side to understand what happened in June and the general impact of the EU’s migration policy on asylum-seekers. However, the mission was cut short by Moroccan authorities. By meeting with survivors, witnesses and key stakeholders in relation to the 24-June incident, the mission’s overall goal was to look into the responsibilities of both the Spanish and Moroccan sides and the EU’s responsibility through its increased cooperation with Morocco.
The Left condemns the denial of entry of our delegation and we will continue to use all official means in the search for establishing the truth and to hold those responsible for what happened accountable.
Over 23 asylum seekers died and at least 76 were injured on June 24. According to the UN OHCHR, this is the highest recorded number of deaths in a single incident over many years of migrants attempting to cross from Morocco to Europe through the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta.
Shocking videos of the incident lead to calls for an effective and independent investigation establishing the circumstances of, and responsibility for, the deaths and injuries. Nevertheless, almost three months after this tragedy, no such investigation has started. Instead, asylum seekers have been prosecuted in relation to it: 33 have been condemned in the first instance to 11 months of jail, 14 to 8 months of jail and 13 to two years and a half of jail as well as facing fines. Another trial of 15 refugees was being held today and MEPs had planned to attend the trial.
Left MEPs have been on different occasions to Melilla, a place where people can’t cross or request asylum without putting themselves in danger. The EU’s role in strengthening this border has been crucial. Morocco is the EU’s second recipient of funding linked to migration, with a total of €346 million.
We will continue to fight to end the blatant disregard for human life at the EU’s external borders. Seeking asylum is a fundamental right. EU migration policy must be based on reception, human rights and guaranteeing safe and legal routes to the EU, to ensure that such incidents never happen again.
Left MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany) said: “We were denied access without any justification. This is a huge scandal and this has never happened to me before. This is especially concerning because we cannot talk to the survivors of 24 June still stranded on the Moroccan side as well as the NGOs working tirelessly for transparency and accountability on this issue.”
Left MEP Miguel Urban Crespo (Anticapitalistas, Spain) declared: “If we are not allowed to go to Morocco it means they are covering something up. And what they are covering up are the murders that happened on 24 June.”