Spanish authorities apprehend and summarily deport unaccompanied minors to Morocco without a procedure to identify them and protect their rights.
This policy was strongly condemned by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in February 2019 in a decision that clearly upholds the fundamental rights of unaccompanied minors at Europe’s borders. This is the first decision on push-backs by the CRC. The decision obliges Spain to amend the special legal regime authorizing automatic expulsions in Ceuta and Melilla. In a shadow report from June 2019, ECCHR asks for an implementation of the decision.
The unaccompanied Malian minor DD was pushed back from Melilla to Morocco in December 2014. He had climbed the border fences and entered into Spain, but the Spanish Guardia Civil immediately apprehended and handcuffed him, then returned him to the Moroccan forces. DD filed an individual communication against Spain in November 2015 with the support of ECCHR and Fundación Raíces.
The committee’s final decision found Spain’s practice to be in violation of several provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, namely the best interest of the child (Article 3), the special protection of unaccompanied minors (Article 20) and the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 37). Furthermore, the committee ordered Spain to compensate for the harm suffered by the complainant.
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.