We publish the Southern Border report 2020, Seeking a Way Out, in which we launch a series of proposals to the Administration to comply with human rights at the southern border.
This third publication on the area of ‘Southern Border’ includes the work of accompanying the migrant population and observing Human Rights that the organisation carries out from the Melilla office, it also analyses the social and legal consequences that the tightening of migratory control has on those who seek a way out of their transit through the city.
The report is structured around seven essential issues to understand the border context: among them, the drama of those who risk their lives to seek asylum; the lack of guarantees in the return procedures; the Supreme Court ruling that guarantees the right to free movement of asylum seekers from Ceuta and Melilla; the problem of considering victims of trafficking as criminals; the dramas of young people who go from sheltered centres to street situations; family separation due to disproportionate zeal; and the measures in the context of a pandemic that aggravate the situation of migrants.
‘Seeking a Way Out’ continues and expands the library of reports on Southern Border that SJM publishes biannually, documents that have been drawing the path of the migratory reality in Melilla in search of a humane and safe migration policy.
The Migrant with Rights Network launches an awareness raising campaign against Summary Returns, also called “hot returns”.
For several years, the Network has been working to denounce and defend the violation of rights at the border, and to accompany, with other Church entities, people who are returned massively.
When the European Court of Human Rights issued its ruling on this matter, we expressed our displeasure about it, precisely because we were able to show the setback in the protection of migrants and refugees.
We would like to explain to you what summary returns known as “hot” returns are.
Do you know what Summary Returns are?
Foreigners who enter Spain through the fence of Ceuta and Melilla do not enter through a border post and the Law on Foreigners says that in these cases a sanctioning file must be opened which is processed with an administrative procedure of refoulement.
In Ceuta and Melilla, the procedures for SUMMARY RETURNS, also called “Hot Returns”, are applied in a particular way, and do not comply with sufficient guarantees for the protection of human rights. What guarantees are not complied with?
- People are not identified, so we do not know if they are minors or asylum seekers.
- They do not have access to a lawyer or to appeal that decision.
- There is no translator, so how can we get to know their personal situation in their origin and the reason why they have arrived?
- People are helpless. Before, there were people and organisations that documented what happened. Now, this is punishable by a heavy fine. WE DON’T GET TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS DIRECTLY.
The ruling prevents the Ministry of the Interior from restricting travel by asylum seekers from Melilla or Ceuta to other parts of Spanish territory and the Schengen area.
The SJM has received a favourable ruling from the Supreme Court dated 29 July 2020 which establishes jurisprudence on the right to free movement throughout the national territory of documented asylum seekers, with the mere legal obligation to communicate changes of address: a right which cannot be restricted to those who request international protection from Melilla or Ceuta. The Commissioner-General for Aliens and Borders cannot restrict fundamental rights without directly relying on the law, and asylum law does not allow him to prevent the free movement of asylum seekers.
The Supreme Court dismantles the Ministry of the Interior’s interpretation of the meaning of police checks on pre-boarding documentation between Melilla (or Ceuta) and the rest of Spanish territory, including the Schengen area: it does not prevent asylum seekers from crossing on the assumption that they had crossed the border without the required documentation to enter the Schengen area, but seeks to check whether people who have entered Melilla (or Ceuta) without a visa have sufficient documentation to enter the rest of Spain or the Schengen area states. And when it comes to asylum seekers, what counts is that the red card that documents them is a provisional residence authorisation that recognises their fundamental right to free movement and free choice of residence with the simple obligation to notify changes of address.
The case brought by SJM has a special procedural feature compared to the one brought by CEAR in Ceuta, which obtained a favourable ruling on 28 July 2020. The SJM is attacking a decision of the Commissioner General for Aliens and Borders which denied its defendant the right to travel. CEAR attacks the validity of the words “Valid only in Ceuta” (or in Melilla) added to the red card. The SJM has also followed this route in other similar cases. It has even lodged an administrative appeal under the special procedure for the protection of fundamental rights, which requires the intervention of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the public interest. We still do not have a ruling from the Supreme Court, but the Prosecutor’s allegations are in line with the rulings of the High Courts of Justice of Andalusia and Madrid, in terms of what we defend from the SJM and CEAR in our respective cases.
SJM is in favour, as are the people who request asylum from Ceuta and Melilla. The Ministry of the Interior has no margin to continue imposing its flawed interpretation of the law. But we have to be vigilant so that the Interior changes its policy beyond complying and fulfilling every sentence on the matter it loses. The Ministry of the Interior must comply with the law and protect fundamental rights, including those of asylum seekers in Melilla and Ceuta.
The Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM) presents its 2019 Annual Report, a year in which the work of accompanying, serving and defending migrants and refugees, and their full access to citizenship, has been consolidated. A total of 58,965 people were accompanied in 2019 by the entities that form part of the network in the different lines of work.
In the line of Inclusion, which aims to provide integration tools to the migrant population in the cities where we work, almost 40,000 people were accompanied in individualized legal, labour and psycho-social assistance; first reception and basic orientation; and in employability and training projects.
The Frontera Sur (Southern Border) office in Melilla, which offers legal advice as well as human rights observation, assisted 530 people of 21 different nationalities last year, in addition 130 legal actions have been carried out before different authorities and institutions.
In Hospitality, the line of reception for especially vulnerable forced migrants, 460 people were received in more than 70 solidarity initiatives by lay groups, family networks and religious communities. The Community Sponsorship project in the Basque Country was the most innovative action of the year. 53 of the people welcomed were women who took part in gender-specific projects. Many of the people welcomed were unaccompanied young people.
Another of the lines of work is the presence in CIE (Internment and Foreigner Centres) where a group of volunteers and technicians visit the interns in 5 different places in the territory. In 2019, in addition to presenting the ninth annual report, 1462 visits were made to 793 people; and 61 legal actions were carried out in order to improve the conditions of internment and to work towards the end of these inhumane centres.
The Interreligious Dialogue line was given a strong boost with the consolidation of three spaces for raising awareness about the diversity of beliefs, which were attended by almost 7,000 people (mostly students from educational centres) and the proliferation of numerous cultural exchange activities, in which more than 1,600 people participated.
The strategic line of Migrant Women and Domestic Work continued to support almost 5,000 women, especially in the areas of work and training. The work focused on strengthening their lines of defence of rights in home and care work spaces and raising awareness among the public, as well as advocacy with political authorities. In the area of Citizenship and Participation there were numerous innovative initiatives to strengthen community ties in the neighbourhoods and to promote the autonomy and voice of migrants. 420 people attended spaces for citizen participation and some 1,500 attended leisure and free time initiatives.The SJM sincerely and lovingly thanks all the people who make this work possible, which aims to achieve social justice and greater inclusion and equality for migrants: more than 1,200 volunteers and almost 70 members of the technical and managerial teams that make up the team that drives SJM’s work.