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UN calls for independent probe into deaths of 22 Africans trying to cross the Spanish border in Melilla

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News briefing

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice

Geneva: 19 July 2022

UN experts have called on the governments of Morocco and Spain to open an independent investigation into the deaths of at least 23 Africans trying to cross the Spanish-Moroccan border in Melilla.

In a statement published by the media center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 18 July, the experts said the incident is “gravely concerning.”

“We note that investigations have started and call on Spain and Morocco to take all necessary steps alongside the European Union and the African Union to ensure prompt accountability, reparations for victims and preventing recurrence of unlawful deaths in accordance with their obligations,” the experts said.

The deaths occurred while about 2,000 people tried to enter Spain by climbing the high walls surrounding Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa.

The experts noted that, based on the information collected, they will assess legislation and law enforcement practices in both countries against applicable human rights standards, including the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, and the UN Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement.

“Any use of force by law enforcement officials must be guided by principles of legality, precaution, necessity, proportionality, accountability and non-discrimination,” said experts from the UN International Independent Expert Mechanism (IIEM) mandated to advance racial justice and equality in the context of law enforcement and the UN Working Group of Experts on people of African descent.

For his part, Judge Mocguru, chair of IIEM, said he wished to provide the two governments with concrete recommendations to end this cycle of deadly confrontations of Africans with law enforcement authorities.

In conclusion, the experts stressed that they will continue to monitor the situation and communicate with the Spanish and Moroccan authorities, and are ready to provide guidance and recommendations to states and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the victims and their families obtain justice.

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