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Migrants: Morocco-Spain and United States

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani

We are deeply disturbed by the deaths of at least 23 African migrants and injury of at least 76 others as they tried to cross from Morocco into Spain on 24 June.

We call on the two countries to ensure an effective and independent investigation is held as a first step towards establishing the circumstances of the deaths and injuries, any possible responsibilities and ensuring accountability as appropriate.

This is the highest recorded number of deaths in a single incident over many years of migrants attempting to cross from Morocco to Europe via the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. One hundred and forty Moroccan border guards also reportedly sustained injuries.

We have received reports of migrants beaten with batons, kicked, shoved, and attacked with stones by Moroccan officials as they tried to scale the barbed-wire fence, some six to 10 metres high, separating Morocco from Melilla.

We call on Morocco and Spain to ensure respect for the human rights of migrants at their joint border and, in particular, that their border officers refrain from any use of excessive force against migrants.

We also call on them to take to all necessary steps alongside the European Union, the African Union, and other relevant international and regional actors - to ensure human rights-based border governance measures are in place. These include access to safe migration pathways, access to individualised assessments, and protection from collective expulsions and from refoulement, as well as from arbitrary arrest and detention.

In an equally distressing development, we are also deeply disturbed by reports that at least 46 bodies of migrants have been found in an abandoned truck in San Antonio, Texas, in the US, presumably after having crossed the border.

This is not the first such tragedy, and it illustrates again the critical need for regular safe pathways for migration as well as for accountability for those persons whose conduct has directly led to such loss of life.