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Morocco sentences 33 irregular migrants to prison over Melilla crossing attempt

Flowers are laid on the ground in memory of migrants who died at the Spanish-Moroccan border [Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images]
Flowers are laid on the ground in memory of migrants who died at the Spanish-Moroccan border, 24 June 2022 [Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images]

A Moroccan court in Nador has sentenced 33 irregular migrants to 11 months in prison each after they attempted to cross to the Spanish enclave of Melilla last month, Anadolu news agency reported.

On 24 June, about 2,000 irregular migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and Sudan, attempted to cross the Melilla fence into Europe, which led to the killing of at least 23 of them in a "stampede" and the injury of dozens.

37 migrants died while storming Spain's Melilla - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

37 migrants died while storming Spain's Melilla – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Human rights organisations have criticised the manner in which the Moroccan and Spanish authorities dealt with the migrants during the crossing attempt.

The Moroccan Association for Human Rights, the country's largest human rights association, described the ruling as "very harsh" against asylum seekers who were only looking for "international protection to escape war, poverty and instability".

"We hope this harsh ruling will be reviewed at the appeal stage," it added in a post on Facebook.

The court found the migrants guilty of "disobedience", "armed gathering", "violence against public officials", and "illegal entry into Moroccan territory".

No official statement had been issued by the relevant Moroccan authorities regarding the court rulings at the time of going to press.

READ: Council of Europe urges Spain to ensure humane border control policies with Morocco

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