THE United Nations has joined calls for Spain to investigate the deaths of at least 23 migrants as they tried to cross the border from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Friday.

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) urged both Spain and Morocco  to carry out immediate and thorough investigations and to hold those responsible to account. 

“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,” the committee said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

It came a day after Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez defended the manner in which police repelled migrants at the fence describing it as ‘an attack on Spain’s borders.’

“We must remember that many of these migrants attacked Spain’s borders with axes and hooks,” Sanchez said in an interview with AP on Monday. “We are talking about an attempt to assault the fence that was evidently carried out in an aggressive way, and therefore what Spain’s state security forces and Moroccan guards did was defend Spain’s borders.”

Morocco blamed the deaths on a ‘stampede’ as around 2,000 migrants surged towards the 12-meter high razor wire topped border fence.

Sanchez insisted the ultimate blame lay with human trafficking rings that  ‘are profiting from the suffering of human beings who only want to seek a better life.’

The UN committee said such tragedies could be avoided ‘if a comprehensive rights-based approach had been incorporated in border policies’. 

“We urge the Moroccan and the Spanish Governments to conduct prompt, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigations into these deaths and to determine the corresponding responsibilities. In addition, measures should be taken to ensure access to justice for victims and their families.

“The authorities should also provide full reparation for the human rights violations, including breaches of the non-refoulement principle by arbitrary pushbacks,” it added.

The calls echo those of human rights organisations in both Spain and Morocco. 

Amnesty International has expressed its “deep concern” over the events at the border.

“Although the migrants may have acted violently in their attempt to enter Melilla, when it comes to border control, not everything goes,” said Esteban Beltrán, the director of Amnesty International Spain. 

“The human rights of migrants and refugees must be respected and situations like that seen cannot happen again.”

Amnesty International has expressed its “deep concern” over the events at the border.

“Although the migrants may have acted violently in their attempt to enter Melilla, when it comes to border control, not everything goes,” said Esteban Beltrán, the director of Amnesty International Spain. 

“The human rights of migrants and refugees must be respected and situations like that seen cannot happen again.”

READ ALSO:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.