Spain in front of UN Committee Against Torture

Silenced survivor challenges lack of investigation into deadly pushback at El Tarajal / Ceuta.


Ludovic N. (anonymized for his protection), survivor of the deadly pushback at El Tarajal, Ceuta on 6 February 2014, has submitted a complaint to the UN against Spain for multiple violations of the Convention Against Torture, with the support of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). He was 15 years old when he was beaten, and tear gassed by Guardia Civil officers as he struggled to hold onto the sea wall border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. The unaccompanied minor from Cameroon was apprehended and expelled to Morocco by land and was later obstructed from testifying during the 8 years of investigations into the deadly events.

“A decade has passed and still not a single person has been held accountable for the death and injury of so many,” said Ludovic N., who now lives in Germany. “The violence at the border on that day continued in court, where we were also not treated as humans,” he added. At least 15 died, countless were injured and 23 more pushed back on that day at the El Tarajal beach in Ceuta. 10 years on from the deadly events, Ludovic N.’s complaint to the UN Committee Against Torture addresses a litany of investigative failures after Spain finally archived the case in 2022. 

“The UN must insist that Spain re-opens its investigation into the Tarajal events and that it brings impunity to an end,” said Carsten Gericke, the complainant’s representative and ECCHR partner lawyer. “The Playa del Tarajal deaths are emblematic of Europe’s racist deadly border policies and the complete disregard for black lives in particular,” added Hanaa Hakiki from ECCHR. Ceuta and Melilla are the European laboratory of border rightlessness. This complaint is part of a series of legal challenges to address systematic human rights violations inherent to pushbacks at the EU’s external borders.

Bodies were not identified, survivors not heard, and the families of victims were obstructed from taking part in the Spanish proceedings. The authorities refused to even hear Ludovic N.’s testimony, ignoring his rights as a victim and depriving him of having his case examined in front of a Spanish judge.   
“There is still no truth, no justice, the families have not been compensated and therefore there is no guarantee of non-repetition,” said Elena Muñoz from The Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR). “As a civil party to the criminal proceedings, we continue to demand that the right to life for migrants is respected at our borders.”
Families and affected communities continue to demand justice and an end to the impunity as they gather to mark the 10th anniversary of the deadly incident. “The Tarajal case has meant even greater violence at the border has become acceptable. This directly led to the Melilla massacre on June 24, 2022,” said Sani Ladan from Asociación Elin, Ceuta.
Further information about Ludovic N. is available in this profile. The details of his case in front of the UN and the preceding Spanish investigations are set out in this summary.

Read more about the case here

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