The group of migrants included 26 women and two young children aged 3 and 4.
Rabat – Spain’s Civil Guard deported 40 migrants from the Chafarinas Islands near Morocco’s northern coast on Friday, January 3. Moroccan maritime forces rescued the migrants and transferred them to the nearest security zone in Morocco, according to the local authorities in Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the northern coast of Morocco
The Chafarinas Islands are one of the Spanish territories in North Africa. Sovereignty over the islands is a point of dispute between Morocco and Spain.
The group of three islands is located in the Alboran Sea, 45 kilometers east of Nador and 3.3 kilometers off the Moroccan town of Ras Kebdana. They are also known as Zafarin, Djaferin, or Zafarani.
The group of migrants that arrived by boat in the Spanish territories includes 26 women and two young children aged 3 and 4, according to Spanish NGO Walking Borders. The group includes nationals from Bangladesh, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, and Ethiopia. The Spanish Civil Guard expelled them immediately upon their arrival and without any legal proceedings.
The NGO denounced the “hot returns” as violations of international law.
“Hot returns” or summary returns (devoluciones en caliente) refers to the illegal expulsion of persons on the spot and without carrying out the legally established procedures or meeting international obligations, according to a legal report by Complutense University Madrid.
Helena Maleno Garzon, a Spanish journalist, human rights activist, and spokesperson for Walking Borders condemned the move and demanded that the Spanish government be held accountable for violating the rights of the migrants.
Garzon shared a photo on Twitter of a man wrapped in a plastic bag, trying to stay warm.
📸 Esta foto nos enviaron esta mañana protegiéndose del frío. Recordamos a la @guardiacivil que las ‘devoluciones en caliente’ son prácticas condenadas por la ONU al vulnerar Derechos Humanos. pic.twitter.com/QAJ0Oq3QtA
— Helena Maleno Garzón (@HelenaMaleno) January 3, 2020
In a statement to Spanish news outlet SER, Garzon said that some of the migrants had been sick and required medical attention at a Moroccan hospital. She also shared an audio recording from one of the migrants, who claimed that the Civil Guard mistreated and beat some of the men in the group.
“We must condemn such practices that violate international rights, such as the right to asylum, and [Spanish] national laws themselves,” the activist said to SER.
— Caminando Fronteras (@walkingborders) January 3, 2020