Morocco pursues its policy of harsh verdicts against migrants
Morocco sentences 14 Sudanese migrants to eight months in prison after being detained a day prior to the Melilla enclave crossing tragedy.
Following their detention in June, Morocco sentenced 14 migrants to eight months in prison on Thursday according to their attorney. The migrants were detained a day prior to the tragic mass crossing into the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Mbarek Bouirig, the attorney, told AFP that "it's a really harsh verdict," adding that he planned to appeal the verdict.
Most of whom are from impoverished Sudan, the accused were initially detained on June 23 during a Moroccan operation close to Melilla, which along with Ceuta, the other Spanish exclave, serves as the only land frontier between the EU and Africa.
The next day, June 24, over 23 migrants were killed when approximately 2,000 people attempted to cross the enclaves by storming the fences. The number of fatalities was the highest in years of enclave crossing attempts.
Based on information from Bouirig, the migrants on trial have been accused of being part of a criminal group, without determining its nature of course, as well as insulting police officers. An activist from AMDH human rights organization that monitored the trial, Omar Naji, said that the migrants did not attempt to cross the border. Naji commented asking, "Why condemn migrants whose sole wrongdoing was to have taken refuge in a forest?"
A Moroccan court sentenced 33 migrants to 11 months in prison last month for entering the country illegally, while a second trial for 29 migrants, including a juvenile, is ongoing.
Earlier in July, it was reported that Morocco started a trial on Monday, July 4, against 3 migrants who have tried to "illegally enter" the Melilla enclave, but the trial was put to a stop immediately, according to lawyers.
The hearing came 11 days after at least 23 migrants were killed as they tried to enter Melilla, as Spanish authorities waged systemic violence against the migrants who mostly came from Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, and Niger.