EU and Morocco renew migration agreement after deaths on the Spanish border

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — The European Commission promised Friday to step up its work with Morocco to combat human traffickers using “new and extremely violent methods,” a move that comes two weeks after 23 people were killed in the border between Morocco and Morocco. the Spanish enclave of Melilla.

The EU Commissioner for Internal Affairs, Ylva Johansson, and the Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, met with the Moroccan Minister of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit, in Rabat to discuss the events of June 24, when Hundreds of Sub-Saharan migrants and asylum seekers attempted to storm a border post. and scale a border fence in Melilla. In addition to the deaths, some 150 Moroccan and Spanish law enforcement officers and more than 70 civilians were injured.

“We have discussed how we can continue to cooperate in the fight against smugglers, preventing a situation as violent and dangerous as the one we saw two weeks ago,” Johansson said in a video message after the meeting.

There were no further details on exactly what new and violent methods the smugglers are using, but the European Commission said it would improve police cooperation with Morocco, including joint investigations.

Mustafa Baitas, a spokesman for the Moroccan government, said on Thursday that the events on the Nador-Mellila border were “planned and orchestrated” in a way that was not typical of other attempts to storm the border with Spain.

At the time, Moroccan authorities said the migrants had died as a result of a stampede. But several human rights organizations have called for an independent investigation into the deaths and condemned authorities on both sides of the border for using excessive force. The Moroccan Human Rights Association says 27 migrants have died, four more than Moroccan authorities reported. Many of the victims were believed to be Sudanese, he tweeted.

“The commissioner and the two ministers welcomed the investigative commission established by the Moroccan National Human Rights Council,” the EU Commission statement said. Spanish prosecutors also announced last week that they had launched an investigation into June 24.

Videos showing countless black men lying on the ground that day, some motionless and bleeding as Moroccan officers stood guard over them, sparked public outrage and condemnation from the United Nations chief. Other footage showed groups of men scaling a fence while throwing rocks at Moroccan riot police, then collapsing to the ground.

“We deeply regret the death of these migrants,” Marlaska said on Friday, calling the events “a violent assault on our borders.”

Both Marlaska and Johansson praised the work of Morocco, which according to the European Commission has prevented 26,000 irregular departures and dismantled some 100 “criminal trafficking networks.”


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