Far from Prying Eyes, A Trap for Migrants and Refugees

Algeria, Migration and Asylum, Morocco / Western Sahara, Report

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Far from Prying Eyes, A Trap for Migrants and Refugees

Since the beginning of 2015, the border between Algeria and Morocco has been increasingly militarised: elevation of a barbed wire fence on the Moroccan side and construction of a deep ditch on the Algerian side. Migrants and refugees’ fundamental rights are violated on an ongoing basis, out of sight and with complete impunity, in violation of multiple international and national obligations of Morocco and Algeria, along with a restriction on the freedom to leave any country, in particular for migrants and refugees.

Unfortunately this situation is not an exception. As in other locations, such as the French-British border, or around Ceuta and Melilla, forced transit zones and no-go zones with no reception structures encourage violence towards migrants and refugees.

By sealing their common border, Morocco and Algeria push those who wish to migrate to even more remote places. Like a domino effect, abuse against migrants and refugees, blocked in the North of Morocco and on the Algeria-Morocco border, partly results from the militarisation of the border in Ceuta and Melilla, as well as from what the Spanish Minister of Interior Diaz deemed a “brilliant collaboration” between the Moroccan and Spanish authorities, marked with much unpunished violence.

These policies echo European policies: on 26 March 2015, Spain adopted an Organic Law on Protecting Public Security which authorises “on-the-spot” expulsions from Ceuta and Melilla, although such practices are illegal. In other words, migrants who have crossed the border are immediately pushed back towards Moroccan territory, without any procedural safeguard and in violation of the right to seek asylum and of the principle of non-refoulement.

This report is intended to build on EuroMed Rights 2013 report. The recommendations made and the description of the legal frameworks given in that report still apply and should be added to the information presented here, which was collected between January and September 2015 in Morocco and in Algeria using a qualitative process (participant observations and interviews with migrants and refugees, as well as civil society stakeholders).