Both Morocco’s and Spain’s denials that they used excessive force when thousands of African immigrants scaled a border fence in June resulting in over 20 deaths might be exposed, threating to raise tensions once again between Rabat and Madrid, according to Reuters.
On November 2nd, Spain’s opposition demanded that the Interior Ministry hand over to parliament all footage of a mass border crossing to clarify the circumstances around the deaths of at least 23 migrants. The request came a day after a BBC documentary said the ministry was withholding CCTV evidence.
On June 24, about 2,000 migrants took part in the attempt to storm the border post between Morocco and Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla, with scores managing to reach Spanish territory.
A video from the Moroccan Association for Human Rights of the attempted crossing’s aftermath showed dozens of bodies piled together. Both Morocco and Spain denied using excessive force.
On November 1st, British broadcaster BBC released a documentary that claimed lifeless bodies were dragged by Moroccan police from an area that was Spanish-controlled and that Spain’s Interior Ministry was withholding crucial CCTV evidence from formal investigations.
The ministry said the report “made very serious accusations without any evidence to back them up” and reiterated its support for the Guardia Civil’s actions, saying police officers acted proportionately.
“Absolutely no one, neither the Guardia Civil, nor the (Moroccan) Gendarmerie, nor the Attorney General’s Office, nor the Ombudsman nor the Moroccan authorities maintain that the deaths took place on national territory,” it said.
The Melilla disaster has returned to the political spotlight following a damning report from Spain’s ombudsman and a statement by United Nations human rights experts condemning what they described as “excessive and lethal use of force” by Moroccan and Spanish law enforcement.
The opposition Popular Party requested that Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska testify before parliament for a second time and that the footage be made available to lawmakers.
“Spaniards should not have to see what the ministry itself has through a foreign media outlet,” spokeswoman Cuca Gamarra told reporters, adding that the ministry should hand over the footage so that parliament could examine the facts and clarify responsibilities.
Gamarra did not rule out requesting a parliamentary inquiry.
The incident on the Morocco Spanish border is not the first time African migrants have made the dangerous crossing. In May 2021, Morocco allowed around 8000 migrants to enter Spain, angered by Madrid assisting a Polisario leader with medical assistance and Spain’s uncertain position on the disputed area of Western Sahara which Morocco controls.