RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Activists on Wednesday urged Morocco to launch an “unbiased” investigation into the deaths of at least 23 migrants who were trying to enter Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla last week.
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights demanded in a letter to the general prosecutor at the Nador Court of Appeal that an investigation be opened into the events before any burials of the dead.
They died when hundreds of migrants attempted to scale the heavily guarded border fence between Nador and Melilla. More 200 migrants and security officers were injured.
“The only condition for transparency regarding the ‘Black Friday’ events in Nador is the opening of a judicial inquiry, carrying out the necessary autopsies, and helping to identify the victims," the association said in a statement.
Spain’s prime minister has defended the way Moroccan and Spanish police repelled migrants as they tried to cross the shared border, depicting the attempt as “an attack on Spain’s borders.” His left-center government is trying to improve ties with Morocco following an acrimonious diplomatic dispute over Western Sahara.
Earlier the association claimed that city officials were burying unidentified dead migrants in at least 21 graves dug in a local cemetery.
The association said that many migrants are currently being held by police pending trial. The majority are from Sudan and Chad.
A delegation from the Moroccan state-affiliated human rights organization CNDH visited the Nador hospital Wednesday to see injured migrants, and visited the morgue where the bodies of victims are held. The group says the visit is part of a fact-finding mission about last week's events.
Activists say that is not enough. A sit-in is planned for Friday outside the parliament building in Rabat to show support for migrants who lost their lives at the Mellila border.
Opposition parties in the House of Representatives have called Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita to the stand and demanded an explanation for what took place at the Melilla border.
Human rights groups have deplored the treatment the migrants received from police on both sides.