Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has condemned racist treatment of some Africans who were seeking to cross from Morocco into Spain.
“I express my deep shock and concern at the violent and degrading treatment of African migrants attempting to cross an international border from Morocco into Spain, with the ensuing violence leading to the deaths of at least 23 people and injuries to many more.”
Authorities said the individuals died on Friday as a result of a “stampede” after about 2,000 people tried to climb the iron fence that separates Morocco and Melilla, with some falling in the attempt.
The AU chief joined calls by rights groups for a probe into the matter.
“I call for an immediate investigation into the matter and remind all countries of their obligations under international law to treat all migrants with dignity and to prioritize their safety and human rights, while refraining from the use of excessive force,” he added.
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), in a series of tweets on Saturday, called for a “comprehensive, quick and serious” investigation into Friday’s events and published videos of the aftermath of the attempted mass crossing.
The footage showed dozens of people lying by the border fence, some bleeding and many apparently lifeless as Moroccan security forces stood over them. In one of the clips, a Moroccan security officer appeared to use a baton to strike a person lying on the ground.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez meanwhile condemned the attempted mass crossing as a “violent assault” and an “attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain.
“If there is anyone responsible for everything that appears to have taken place at that border, it is the mafias that traffic in human beings,” he said.
A Spanish police source said the people who tried to cross the fence had used sticks, knives and acid against security forces and had changed tactics to try crossing at one perceived weak spot en masse, rather than in separate attempts along the fence.
Some 133 people made it across the border, while 176 Moroccan security officers and 49 Spanish border guards sustained injuries, authorities say.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK