Spain backs security forces amid BBC probe into deadly border breach


Spain backs security forces amid BBC probe into deadly border breach

London/Madrid, Nov 2 (EFE).- The Spanish interior ministry on Wednesday rejected accusations in a damning BBC report that its security forces failed to prevent dozens of migrant deaths during a rush across Spain’s north African border this summer.

BBC’s Africa Eye investigative team have explored in forensic detail the events that unfolded on June 24 in Spain’s north African enclave of Melilla which resulted in the deaths of at least 24 migrants.

According to the Death on the Border investigation, chaotic scenes captured in several videos show dozens of people crowded into an area of the border post, some motionless and others visibly distressed.

Spain’s interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska rejected the BBC’s accusations, saying the ministry supported the actions of the Civil Guard who acted “proportionately, in accordance with the law and firmly” during the massive border breach.

Sources from the ministry added it was “disappointing and surprising” that “very serious” accusations had been made without the support of any evidence.

Although official reports state at least 24 migrants died, the number of victims was likely higher, and some 70 people remain missing in the area known as Chinatown, according to the British broadcaster.

In the days after the incident, both Spanish and Moroccan authorities defended their actions saying the migrants had been violent and that reasonable force had been used.

However, the BBC probe has cast doubt on the official government accounts after reviewing and verifying “dozens of public and private videos” filmed on June 24, it said.

The BBC team gained access to the Chinatown border complex and also gained access to Spain’s Civil Guard CCTV control room, where cameras installed along the border fence playback footage on large screens.

The British broadcaster said it was therefore likely that Spanish officials witnessed the scenes that unfolded on that day.

Spain’s interior ministry on Wednesday reiterated that state security forces would continue to defend the borders of Spain “with the same professionalism, exemplary nature and commitment to legality”.

Dozens of survivors were also interviewed for the documentary.

The BBC interviewed Hassan, Ismail, Stephen and Mohammed, who were fleeing war ravaged Sudan and South Sudan, and had traveled thousands of miles through Libya and Algeria to Morocco in the hope of reaching Europe to seek asylum.

Stephen was beaten by Moroccan border guards and says he wants to know why so many people died on that day.

In verified footage collected by the BBC filmed from the Spanish side of the border, dozens of Moroccan policemen are seen walking through Chinatown taking people away in what is known as “pushbacks”, which, according to the BBC, is a controversial practice that is often legally contested.

Some migrants being pushed back were beaten by Moroccan authorities as members of Spain’s Civil Guard watched on.

On October 14, an initial report into a probe by Spain’s Ombudsman suggested that “national and international legal guarantees” were not respected when 470 people were turned away on the border during the breach attempt.EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button