UN committee urges probe into migrant deaths at Morocco-Spain border

NGOs say 37 people died on Friday trying to cross into Spanish enclave of Melilla.

UN committee urges probe into migrant deaths at Morocco-Spain border

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers on Tuesday called on the Moroccan and Spanish governments to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into dozens of migrant deaths at the border

“We are appalled by the deaths of these migrants who intended to cross the border to seek a better life based on their legitimate human rights,” it said in a statement.

On Friday, around 2,000 migrants stormed the militarized border fence to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco. NGOs allege that violent police response and a lack of medical treatment left 37 people dead.

“It is yet to be determined whether the victims died falling from the fence, in a stampede, or as a result of any actions taken by the border control officers,” the UN committee said in its statement demanding an investigation.

“Based on the information we have gathered, we remind all states that migrants shall not be subjected to any cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. States must also guarantee that all policies and practices at borders effectively respect all human rights obligations, ensuring the right to life, dignity, security and physical integrity of migrants in all circumstances,” it continued.

But neither the Spanish nor Moroccan governments appear willing to launch an investigation.

Even Spain’s progressive government has only applauded the effective border control and blamed the loss of life on human trafficking mafias.

Moroccan human rights group AMDH has denounced that Moroccan authorities have already dug graves for the dead migrants, accusing officials of trying to get rid of the corpses without a proper investigation.

In the statement, the UN committee pointed out that “the Moroccan government is required to preserve the bodies of the deceased, fully identify them and inform their families, and provide the necessary support for the transfer of the bodies. As for the injured, they should be given essential medical care for their prompt recovery.”

The international body also told authorities on both sides of the border to provide full reparations for human rights violations, including arbitrary pushbacks.

Hüseyin Demir