29th Sep 2023


One year after the massacre in Melilla, nothing has changed

  • Twitter footage of the aftermath of the 24 June 2022 (Photo: AMDH Nador)
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A year ago, on 24 June 2022, a massacre took place at the border between the Spanish enclave of Melilla and Nador, in Morocco.

It was the most serious human rights violation where Spain has been involved in the last decade, and it is the deadliest massacre ever recorded at a European land border.

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At least 40 people died, 80 disappeared, several dozens were injured and almost 500 were displaced and deported. But what has happened since then?

Despite repeated reports and denunciations from survivors, civil society, activists and families of the victims, the policies implemented in the two enclaves and the wider border region have not changed.

Continuous exceptionalism, lack of rule of law, lack of transparency and accountability are widespread. They lead to systemic violations like pushbacks, which deprive people of their right to access asylum, international protection and non-refoulement.

One year later, we still don't know exactly what happened on that day: how many really died also taking into account those injured or lacking medical care? Where is the official and detailed information about this massacre? Why hasn't there been an official investigation into the events? The lack of accountability for human rights violations at borders remains unchallenged at the institutional level.

In the meantime, it is impossible for black African migrants in Morocco to seek asylum in Ceuta and Melilla: they are banned from getting close to the fences by surveillance technology and police control both in Morocco and Spain.

The Spanishh NGOs Novact and Irídia provide evidence of systemic human rights violations in Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands in their last report, which underlines practices such as refoulement, lack of clarity in asylum procedures, shortcomings in reception and disproportionate use of force by security forces.

These violations all impact the most vulnerable and racialised people such as asylum seekers, women and children especially if they are black.

For instance, the report provides evidence of minors leaving the reception centres and being left abandoned on the streets, as the police does not implement action protocols to look for those who have disappeared.

Despite decades of militarising and building up the walls of the two cities, the number of (attempted) crossings has not diminished — they have only become more dangerous and deadly.

One year after the massacre, and with Spain taking the presidency of the European Council in July, Irídia, Novact and EuroMed Rights call for a radical change in EU migration policies and for an equal access to international mobility.

We need to move away from externalisation and deterrence of migration, and rather favour protection and fundamental rights, so that tragedies like that of Melilla, or the recent shipwreck off the Greek coast will not happen again.

Author bio

This op-ed was jointly drafted and signed by EuroMed Rights, Novact and Irídia.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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