Thursday, 21 September 2023
WorldInterior returns to Senegal the 168 migrants blocked by Mauritania

Interior returns to Senegal the 168 migrants blocked by Mauritania

Nearly a week after his rescue, the 168 migrants located and rescued by the Civil Guard off the coast of Mauritania they have already been returned to Senegalfrom where the cayuco with which they were heading to the Canary Islands had set sail.

The Ministry of the Interior reported this Wednesday that all migrants they are “safe on land” in the port of Saint Louis, in Senegal, after they were rescued by the Spanish patrol boat Río Tajo of the Civil Guard in front of the port of Nouadibou (Mauritania).

The situation of these people on board the patrol boat had been a source of tension during the six days that they have remained overcrowded and retained on the ship, since Mauritania has refused to give permission for them to be disembarked.

The nervousness and uncertainty of those rescued even led the patrol boat agents to have to shoot into the air to dispel attempted mutiny on board and security on the ship was reinforced with another 16 agents stationed in the country.

Mauritania plant

The Civil Guard patrol boat set sail from Nouadhibou last Monday after unsuccessfully trying to get the Mauritanian authorities to receive them. A fact that surprised the Government, since the African country maintains close collaboration agreements with Spain in matters of migration control and the fight against irregular immigration. Mauritania has agreed in the past to receive citizens returned by Spain after entering the country irregularly. That has included people of other nationalities.

The Mauritanian reaction marks a milestone in Spanish immigration policy and casts uncertainty on the stability of the agreements for which it receives around ten million euros a year from Spain for immigration control and where the Police and Civil Guard work on their own base, in addition to collaborate on patrols with the Mauritanian gendarmerie.

After concluding the transfer of all the migrants and returning them to Senegal, the acting Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, has highlighted the “extraordinary” work of the Río Tajo patrol boat and the Civil Guard who participated in what he describes as an “operation humanitarian” that has “managed to save the lives of all those rescued.

Criticism of the return to Senegal

On Tuesday, the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (CEAR) denounced that this return to Senegal of the rescued could “incur in a possible violation of international legislation” as it is considered “a possible collective return” at sea. Collectives of lawyers in matters of Immigration also warned of this possibility.

According to CEAR, the 168 migrants, whose nationality has not been provided by the Interior, were under Spanish jurisdiction as they were in the custody of the Civil Guard. For this reason, he asked that compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights be guaranteed and that those rescued be offered the possibility of requesting asylum before being returned to Senegal, involved in a political and social crisis that has led to an increase in repression.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rules that these people have the right to be informed by trained personnel of the possibility of requesting international protection, with the support of interpreters and legal advisers, and emphasizes that it must be guaranteed that people are not returned to countries where their rights and lives may be in danger.

For CEAR, this Mauritanian plant represents a “failure” of the migration policies of externalizing borders, since “on this occasion, not even the huge amounts of money that the African country receives have been enough to open its ports to people rescued in its waters”.

JUCIL requests investigation in Congress

The professional association Justice for the Civil Guard (JUCIL) requested on Tuesday that the Congress of Deputies investigate the responsibilities of what it considers “mismanagement” of this rescue.

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