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Spanish police ordered to stop hurting migrants trying to enter Melilla

Friday, 24 October 2014

Police guarding Spain's borders with Morocco are being ordered to take care to prevent injuries when tackling migrants who scramble over the fences into Spanish territory, after evidence of abuse sparked outrage.

A video filmed by a rights group on October 15 showed Spanish Civil Guards beating an African migrant as he hung on the fence separating Morocco from the Spanish territory of Melilla, and then carrying him, apparently unconscious, back to the Moroccan side.

The video sparked outrage from rights groups and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The Spanish government insisted its officers had acted legally and complained that the border fence was under intense pressure from the flow of migrants.

In a statement late on Wednesday the interior ministry said it had drawn up guidelines for border guards that would be included in a forthcoming immigration reform.

It said the guards' mission was to "prevent the illegal entry of people" into Melilla and Spain's other north African enclave, Ceuta, which together have Europe's only land borders with Africa.

The ministry said surveillance and coordination with Moroccan security forces would be intensified to provide early warnings of attempts by migrants to scale the seven-metre triple-layer fence.

It said officers should take care to avoid migrants and police falling from the fence and must call for medical assistance for any migrants who were hurt.

The government has been criticised for "on-the-spot deportations" of migrants who have stormed the border fence in groups of hundreds over recent months. It denies that migrants who climb the fence should be considered as having reached Spanish territory.


 The South China Morning Post

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