Border Officers Beat Down Migrants From Fence & Escort Them to Morocco

A video by a local migrant rights organization, Associación PRODEIN Melilla, shows about a half dozen migrants scaling the border fence separating Morocco from the Spanish territory of Melilla. Spanish border guards await, swinging their batons at the young men as soon as they are within striking distance. Some of the guards actually scale the fence themselves to get closer to their targets. Officers knock one man to the ground, where he then appears to be unresponsive. Guards proceed to carry the man back through the border, where it appears they hand him to Moroccan authorities on the other side of the fence.

The footage was shared across Spanish media and beyond, drawing international attention and widespread condemdation from Spanish politicians and international organizations.

The Commissioner of Human Rights for the European Council issued a response, stating, "Yesterday’s events in Melilla, where the Guardia Civil used violence against several migrants and returned them to Morocco without assessing their needs or allowing them to seek asylum, is yet another disturbing illustration of flaws in Spain’s treatment of migrants in its exclaves." The UN refugee agency also responded, stating that “the UNHCR recognizes the legitimacy of states to protect and guard their borders, but considers it essential that that is carried out in an environment free of violence and with full respect for human rights.” Several international advocacy organizations individually and collectively condemned the abuse documented in the footage and addressed their concerns to Spanish and EU authorities.

A spokesperson for Melilla’s governing authorities is quoted in Europa Press stating that the migrant shown in the video was not injured but rather practicing passive resistance, and that many migrants had crossed the fence violently and spat at civil guards, shouting “ebola.”

A month prior to the emergence of the video, a judge in Melilla indicted the head of the enclave’s military police after PRODEIN and two other NGOs filed a complaint accusing the police of illegal summary expulsions of migrants and of allowing the Moroccan police to apprehend migrants on Spanish soil.

Despite the widespread condemnation of Spain's treatment of migrants this video brought to light, in March of 2015 Spain adopted a sweeping new law which, in addition to restricting freedom of expression and public assembly, restricts migrants' rights and consolidates the practice of summary expulsion of migrants.