According to recent reports, Portugal is turning into a popular destination for Moroccan irregular migration candidates.
Rabat – A group of 20 Moroccan undocumented migrants have staged a collective suicide attempt to protest their imprisonment near the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, news outlet Portugal Resident reported on July 27.
“None of the suicide attempts actually worked. They appear to have been indication of the men’s outrage at being held in preventive custody,” the report said.
The young Moroccans reportedly attempted to hang themselves in their cells using bedsheets. After stopping the attempts, prison authorities removed “all objects that could allow further suicide attempts,” Portugal Resident reported.
The group’s main demands are freedom and meeting with the Moroccan ambassador to Portugal, Othmane Bahnini.
According to the news outlet, the group of Moroccans irregularly entered Portugal earlier this month. The group used a fishing boat to travel from Morocco’s northern coast to the Iberian country.
The regular procedure after capturing undocumented migrants in Portugal is to put them in a “holding center,” pending a decision regarding their future.
However, the Portuguese Foreigners and Borders Service decided to transfer the group to a prison facility in Linho, near Lisbon, because “holding centers are full,” Portugal Resident said in an earlier report.
The group stressed their right to remain free, but the court of Faro, in southern Portugal, decided otherwise. According to eyewitnesses cited by the report, the Moroccan migrants threw their identity documents and cellphones into the sea upon their arrival to the Portuguese shore.
“This suggests they may have a reason to want to cover their tracks,” said Portugal Resident, reflecting on the court’s decision.
Unusual custody conditions
The Moroccan migrants are expected to remain in prison until local authorities decide their fate. Portugal Resident quoted Correio da Manha, Portugal’s most circulated daily, as saying the young Moroccans will be held in a wing generally reserved for “the most dangerous prisoners.”
The high-security wing has a total of 28 individual cells. Each migrant will stay in a cell of his own. The group will have access to exercise and meals away from the rest of the inmates, the daily reported.
The “protective custody” that contradicts the regular procedure led the Moroccan migrants to protest the decision. The group began by “refusing to eat their lunch” and they demonstrated “some resistance,” Correio da Manha wrote.
According to the newspaper, the young Moroccans believed they will stay in hostels and receive money and food to survive. Portugal’s Foreigners and Borders Service has opted for similar procedures in the past.
However, the “approach has proved unwise” because many migrants “disappeared without leaving a clue,” the daily added.
In recent months, Portugal has growingly become a destination for Moroccan undocumented migration candidates. According to Portugal Resident, more than 69 young Moroccans recently made the crossing from Morocco to Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region.
All the migrants, except those who “escaped,” are now awaiting judicial decisions regarding their fate.
According to the news outlet, the young Moroccans will likely face expulsion from Portugal if they do not fit the criteria for asylum.
Portuguese media explained the “new route” of Moroccans into Europe, saying Portugal’s coastal radars are less accurate than Spain’s. Moroccan migration candidates are, therefore, crossing more frequently to Portugal.