Spain’s summary returns to Morocco violate the European Convention on Human Rights

Article in Forced Migration Focus
18 octobre 2017

Courts remain the last line of defence for the rights of migrants, in trying to face down a coalition of interests uniting States desperately wanting to “control” their borders, nationalist populist politicians demagogically pressing the immigration button in preparation for the next electoral campaign, European institutions in search of legitimacy in a public debate which is entirely piloted by Member States at the Council, violent campaigns by the yellow press and on social media, apathetic public opinions confused by the complexity of the migration issues, and despite a civil society that holds the fort and defends the rights of migrants as best it can.

« As discussed in a previous post, the applicants in that case claimed to have been arrested by Spanish law enforcement authorities and returned to Moroccan territory as part of a group of more than 70 sub-Saharan migrants, immediately after descending the third border fence that separates the autonomous city of Melilla from Morocco. These individuals were not subjected to any administrative or judicial procedure and were not given the opportunity to explain their personal circumstances.

The Spanish Government has argued over the years that the fences erected between Spain and Morocco in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla are not considered to be located in Spain’s territory and therefore migrants intercepted while scaling the fences do not fall under Spanish jurisdiction. However, as predicted, the Court´s decision confirmed that Spain had achieved jurisdiction over the migrants and therefore the human rights obligations under Article 1 of the ECHR applied to Spain in the case »

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