Drama of Melilla: prison closed for 13 migrants

Drama of Melilla: prison closed for 13 migrants

Thirteen African migrants were sentenced to two and a half years in prison by the Moroccan judiciary on Wednesday, August 17, after trying to force nearly 2,000 of them into the Spanish enclave of Melilla (northern Morocco) in late June, according to their lawyer.

When asked by AFP, Mr Khalid Ameza was unable to specify the nature of the charges. The 13 convicts appeared before the criminal trials chamber of the court in Nador, a Moroccan town bordering the Spanish enclave of Melilla. They plan to appeal On June 24, nearly 2,000 illegal immigrants, mostly from Sudan — a very poor, conflict-ridden country ruled by a military regime — tried to enter the Moroccan-held city of Melilla. The tragedy killed 23 migrants, according to Moroccan authorities – 27 according to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) – and sparked widespread outrage in Morocco and abroad.

This sacrificial death is the highest ever recorded in any of the many attempts by migrants to enter Melilla and the neighboring Spanish enclave of Ceuta, which form the European Union’s only land borders with the African continent. Already on August 4, 14 irregular migrants were sentenced to eight months in prison by the same court in Nador for “being part of a criminal gang involved in illegal immigration” in Morocco. They were arrested on June 23 during a search by the Moroccan authorities in the forested massif of Gourougou near the Melilla border. Another 33 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were sentenced on July 19 to 11 months in prison for “illegally entering” Morocco.

Located on the northwestern tip of Africa, Morocco is a transit country for many migrants heading to Europe from the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts, or crossing the fences separating Morocco from the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras on Tuesday reported the deaths of at least 18 people after their boat sank off Tarfaya in southern Morocco while trying to reach the Canary Islands. No confirmation could be obtained from the Moroccan authorities.

SEE ALSO – The drama of Melilla is “an attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain, assures Pedro Sánchez