Morocco condemned by rights groups for jailing immigrants


Morocco has taken unprecedented steps at dealing with its cross border migrant crisis which made the headlines in June 2022 when many were beaten to death while trying to cross from the kingdom into Spain: imprisoning a number who the police managed to arrest, while waiving any prosecutions of the police officers themselves.

But it’s a move which has been sharply condemned by international and even Moroccan human rights organisations.

Amnesty International slammed Morocco, on 11th of January for imprisoning migrants trying to cross into the Spanish exclave of Melilla, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The Moroccan Association for Human Rights said the day before that a Moroccan appellate court sentenced 13 migrants to three years in prison for storming the border fence of the Spanish-controlled city of Melilla in June 2022.

“Double standards dominate in Morocco as an appeals court increased the prison sentence against 13 migrants to three years, while none of the security forces was held accountable for the unlawful killing of 37 migrants at the Melilla crossing in June,” tweeted Amnesty International.

On 24 June, an attempt by about roughly 1,000 migrants of different nationalities to storm Melilla resulted in the deaths of 23 of them, while Moroccan authorities say the migrants used violence against the security forces.

The defendants faced charges of “facilitating the exit of people from Morocco, entering the country secretly, insulting public officials with threats and use of violence while carrying out their duties, illegal residence and possession of weapons.”

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.


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.



Melilla and Ceuta are Europe’s only remaining territories on the African mainland, and have been under Spanish rule since the 17th century.

Since Morocco’s independence, however, the country has insisted that Ceuta and Melilla are yet to be decolonised. Rabat has attempted to argue this at the UN level but has failed to convince the body that the enclaves are non-self-governing territories.


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