Spain - Push-Backs - Minors

No rights for unaccompanied minors at the Spanish-Moroccan border

Spain - Push-Backs - Minors

No rights for unaccompanied minors at the Spanish-Moroccan border

Spanish authorities apprehend and summarily deport unaccompanied minors to Morocco without a procedure to identify them and protect their rights. One of these border operations was recorded in the summer of 2014 in a video showing the push-back of an unaccompanied minor at the Melilla fence structure. Despite assertions from the Spanish government that children would not be subjected to automatic push-backs – conducted since 2005 and also known as "hot returns," "devoluciones en caliente" or more recently "rechazos en frontera" – this practice is in fact indiscriminate and no exceptions are being made.


ECCHR supports an individual communication against Spain on behalf of the unaccompanied Malian minor D.D., submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in November 2015. The communication challenges D.D.'s unlawful return from Spain to Morocco and seeks to reclaim the fundamental rights of unaccompanied minors at the borders of the European Union. In June 2017, the Committee on the Rights of the Child decided to examine the admissibility of the communication together with its merits. To support the complaint by D.D., the NGOs International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) and Dutch Council for Refugees submitted a Third Party Intervention in May 2018, which corroborates ECCHR's position in the case.


Every other week another boat carrying migrants and refugees capsizes or sinks off the coast of Italy or Malta. Witnesses frequently report instances of abuse at the borders between Turkey and Greece. There is a steady climb in the number of people who lose their lives while trying to cross the Moroccan-Spanish border. All of these events serve as evidence of the terrible failure of the EU's asylum and refugee policies. Illegal push-backs or forced returns at EU borders represent a flagrant violation of fundamental human rights and refugee laws. In the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Africa, refugees and migrants are repeatedly subjected to brutal violence from border guards. Anyone attempting to enter these Spanish cities – and thereby reach EU territory – is immediately deported to Morocco without any examination of their right to asylum.

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Individuals complaints allow persons or groups to enforce their rights.
Push-backs are unlawful state acts by which refugees and migrants are physically forced back over the border they just crossed.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out fundamental standards for the protection of children.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the implementation by states of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.