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Rabat denounces Spain's police brutality against Morocco minors

Spanish police guard the migrants at the Algeciras' port on 31 July, 2018 in Algeciras, Spain [Ignacio Marin/Anadolu Agency]
Spanish police guard the migrants at the Algeciras port in Spain on 31 July 2018 [Ignacio Marin/Anadolu Agency]

The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday summoned Spain's ambassador to Rabat to protest the Spanish police aggression against Moroccan minors in an immigration detention centre.

This came after Spanish media published a video last Sunday showing Spanish security officers aggressing Moroccan adolescents in an immigration detention centre in the Spanish Canary Islands.

News agencies quoted Moroccan diplomatic sources stating that the Spanish ambassador had been summoned to: "Express Morocco's concerns over these events."

An official of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Anadolu Agency that the Spanish ambassador was invited to a meeting and was not summoned.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that his country asked the ambassador to undertake disciplinary measures against the officers who brutalised the Moroccan immigrants, noting that "the ambassador has responded positively."

Meanwhile, Mohamed Bin Issa, head of the National Observatory of Human Development (ONDH), told Anadolu Agency: "The summons of the Spanish ambassador by Rabat is a step that confirms that relations between the two countries are going through a very critical period," considering that this new incident reveals only a limited part of the violence inflicted on Moroccan minors in Spanish detention centres.

READ: Spain's PM: 'We are concerned with stability of Maghreb region, Sahara negotiations should be resumed'

Bin Issa added: "We are still shocked by the death of the Moroccan child Elias Taheri in a detention centre in the Spanish city of Almeria."

Previously, Moroccan media aired a video sparking a wave of controversy on social media platforms, showing members of the Spanish security forces beating illegal, under-age Moroccan immigrants, unaccompanied by their parents, in an immigration detention centre in the Canary Islands.

The leaked video shows a young man crying and screaming "this is my brother… this is my brother" next to another young man who was lying on the floor in a coma, or perhaps dead. However, Spanish security personnel continued beating and kicking him.

During this time, local media reported that the police intervened after a minor threatened the director of the detention centre and a number of workers with scissors, after preventing him from leaving. The accident did not lead to any injuries, and the Spanish police decided to open an internal investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

Following the circulation of the video, social media users in Morocco denounced the way the police handled the situation, while recalling similar incidents during which Moroccan immigrants were attacked by Spanish security forces.

Moroccan activist Muhammar Al-Wali commented on the video, stating: "The problem is really serious. The government has to intervene to end abuse against our youth."

A Moroccan activist, who calls herself "Umm Imran", expressed her solidarity with the minors, expressing: "The video is painful to watch, Allah is my suffice, and the best deputy."

Twitter user Radwan denounced the content of the video, demanding: "An investigation into circumstances surrounding the footage of abuse inflicted on the Moroccan minors including the injury caused to some of them."

According to local media reports, Wali Sharafi, head of Horizons Association for Moroccan Migrants in the Canary Islands, condemned the mistreatment of the minors by Spanish police, stressing that as community actors they should take the necessary measures in this regard.

The video reminded Moroccans of the death of Moroccan minor Elias Taheri due to suffocation, after being attacked by security guards in an immigration detention centre for minors in the city of Almeria.

The incident was similar to the murder of George Floyd in the US, prompting the Spanish authorities to launch a thorough investigation into the incident, after the scandal triggered major human rights controversy in the country.

The footage of brutalised Moroccan youth sparked outrage in Morocco and Spain, as the Moroccan website Morocco World News reported that nearly 10,000 people signed a petition calling for the reopening of the case of Taheri's murder, after the Spanish newspaper published the video.

Young Elias Taheri was killed by Spanish police

The news website stated that the petition linked Taheri's murder to racism, adding that the minor's family considered that their son was killed in the same way that George Floyd met his death.

Publico newspaper reported: "What happened to Taheri is similar to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA, which triggered the most significant wave of protests in the United States, in decades."

Following the video's emergence, Taheri's family decided to appeal the court's decision regarding their son's case, as they believed that there were enough indications that what happened to Taheri was murder.

Last June, hundreds of Moroccans and Spaniards signed an online petition calling on the authorities in Madrid to reconsider the murder of Taheri, whom the Spanish media called "the Moroccan Floyd".

Taheri, 18, died in an immigration detention centre for minors in the south-eastern Spanish city of Almeria on 1 July 2019, after six Spanish police officers choked the young man in an attempt to pin him to the ground.

Spain has a number of administrative detention centres dedicated to incarcerating migrants, most of which are located on the Mediterranean coast.

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