Rights group slams Morocco sentences for migrants over Melilla tragedy
A human rights organization condemned Morocco for sentencing migrants to prison after they were trying to cross into the Melilla enclave.
A Moroccan rights group slammed Saturday the "unjust" punishments handed to migrants sentenced over a mass attempted crossing into the Spanish enclave of Melilla, which killed at least 23 people.
Some 2,000 people, the majority of which are Sudanese, attempted to reach the Spanish territory on June 24, which would have allowed them to go into one of the European Union's two land borders with Africa.
Since the incident took place, Rabat sentenced scores of migrants up to three years in prison on charges such as illegal entry and violence against law enforcement officers.
"The sentences have been very severe and unjust," Souad Lazreg, a member of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), said on Saturday, presenting a report on the migrants' trials.
Lawyer Khalid Ameza, who represented some of the migrants, said court documents "include confessions that they have denied throughout the legal process. Despite that, they were given very severe sentences."
He further claimed that the verdicts were void of "logical and convincing arguments" to support them.
"The law enforcement personnel questioned had not identified" any specific individuals, Ameza said during the presentation, which was broadcast live on Facebook, commenting on the cases of some migrants that were accused of committing violence against security forces as well as vandalism of public property.
Moroccan authorities put the number of dead at 23 while the AMDH claimed they were as high as 27.
Both Morocco and Spain governments have insisted the migrants were to blame for the tragedy, with Rabat saying some died after falling while trying to scramble over the fence, while others suffocated as people panicked and a stampede started.
Spain's public prosecutor on Friday closed an investigation into the deaths, saying investigators had found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Spanish security forces.
Spain's government came under fire back in November when the BBC aired a harsh report on major incident.
The Documentary titled "Death on the Border" revealed at least one dead body at the Melilla border post's entry, as well as more bodies being evacuated by Moroccan security agents.
Spanish authorities had confirmed this area was "under their control," as per the BBC.
The documentary sheds the light on Europe’s imperialist viewpoint of the world which comes as no surprise – the increasing militarization and systemic brutality of the continent’s armies are resurrecting grounds for fascist violence on its borders, as well as its neo-colonies.
More alive than ever today, European fascism (even the self-proclaimed leftist presidents) is waging a war on the east, their armies in the process of deploying the most brutal forms of repression against those standing in their way of imperial conquest.
Six months have passed, yet the magnitude of the crime is still unaddressed.
The Spanish government, in conjunction with the NATO Summit that took place last month, will be pushing to designate border crossings as a “hybrid threat” alongside terrorism as part of NATO’s new strategy concept – very fitting for a country with a "leftist" president.
Europe has been taking on an anti-refugee concept – rigid and violent. Last winter, Poland left refugees to freeze to death in the forests on its border. In 2019, Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, called on the EU to suspend all naval rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, which left thousands of people to drown. “Progressive” Finland, with its application to join NATO, declared its intention to begin constructing barriers along its border with Russia to guard against any refugees being used as “hybrid warfare” by Russia.
This comes hand-in-hand with NATO’s latest strategy, which entails ramping up troop presence in the eastern flank of Europe from 40,000 to 300,000 troops and employing expansion strategies to counter Russia and China. With that being said, NATO very much hopes to expand in Africa in terms of its military operations – and that in itself entails violence.
Europe’s closest ally, the US, has lately seen a semi-truck trailer filled with scores of dead bodies – mainly undocumented Central American immigrants that were found on the Texan borders with Mexico.
This comes as a result of Biden’s anti-immigrant policies, not to mention ICE and detention centers on the borders.