The Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR) has urged the country’s authorities to suspend plans to transfer 168 migrants to Senegal.
According to local media reports, the migrants were rescued by a patrol boat last Thursday.
The non-governmental organisation considers that some of the migrants may qualify for international protection, stressing that they are under Spanish jurisdiction and under the effective control of Spain’s national police agency, the Civil Guard.
CEAR said that all persons are entitled to an individualised assessment of their claim, and a failure to guarantee these rights could mean the migrants were subject to collective expulsion in violation of international law
“The [European Court of Human Rights] places special emphasis on guaranteeing that people are not returned to countries where their rights and lives may be in danger,” CEAR noted in a statement on Tuesday, according to InfoMigrants.
It referred to recent political instability in Senegal, which has also seen the arrests of thousands of people, including the opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, leading to protests.
CEAR’s director-general, Estrella Galán, has said that returning of these migrants to a country like Senegal, which is going through a delicate political and social situation, could lead to serious violation of rights.
The group of migrants are being transferred to Senegal after Mauritania didn’t allow them to reach its port.
In recent years, Mauritania has become an increasingly important strategic partner for Spain, which has provided the West African nation with more than €10 million per year to prevent migrants from departing Europe.
Spain became the most used route for irregular migrants in 2018, with arrivals doubling to a total of 57,000, while the number of arrivals in the EU decreased to a five-year low. In 2020, it registered the second most significant number of arrivals by sea in the past twenty years.
However, irregular immigration decreased by nearly 70 per cent at the beginning of 2023. Such figures came following the number made possible in many parts by a notable decrease in arrivals from Morocco.
“Spain has long had a cooperation with Morocco in order to prevent border crossings. This migration partnership has experienced disruptions in the past few years, but it is still a major factor to explain the lower arrivals in Spain,” Associate Director at the Migration Policy Institute Europe, Camille Le Coz, told Euronews.
She said that migration routes are continuously changing, and if the route through Tunisia becomes more complicated, a larger number of migrants may attempt to reach European countries through Morocco.