The Spanish government is under international pressure to launch an urgent enquiry into the border stampede that left at least 23 African migrants dead as they tried to scale the border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla last week.
The UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) this week issued a statement this week stating: “We are appalled by the deaths of these migrants who intended to cross the border to seek a better life based on their legitimate human rights”.
It has yet to be determined whether the victims died falling from the fence, in a stampede, or as a result of any actions taken by the border control officers.
Other human rights organisations have urged Spain and Morocco to “to carry out immediate and thorough investigations and to hold those responsible to account”.
Shocking video has emerged appearing to show the migrants being attacked by Moroccan border guards shows migrants being pelted with rocks while choking on tear gas.
Thousands of migrants tried to rush Morocco’s border with Melilla, the Spanish city enclave on the North African coast, on 24th June.
Moroccan officials said 23 died as they tried to scale barbed-wire barriers.
But several NGOs believe at least 37 people were killed and have accused officials of trying to bury them without identifying the corpses or carrying out autopsies.
Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said the African migrants were “beaten with batons, kicked, shoved, and attacked with stones by Moroccan officials”.
She added: “This is the highest recorded number of deaths in a single incident over many years of migrants attempting to cross from Morocco to Europe via the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta.”
Shamdasani also said that 140 Moroccan border guards sustained injuries in the attempted crossing.
She urged Spain and Morocco to make sure migrants’ human rights are protected at the joint border, and that guards refrain from using excessive force.
Shamdasani also called for an independent investigation to clarify the “competing accounts” of the incident.
The OHCHR official said: “We also call on them to take to all necessary steps alongside the European Union, the African Union, and other relevant international and regional actors – to ensure human rights-based border governance measures are in place.
“These include access to safe migration pathways, access to individualised assessments and protection from collective expulsions and from refoulement, as well as from arbitrary arrest and detention.”