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Moroccan, Spanish and European Union Interior Chiefs meet in Rabat

The meeting takes place two weeks after the tragic events at the Melilla fence
Marlaska y Laftit

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Spanish Minister Grande-Marlaska with his Moroccan counterpart, Laftit.

Abdelouafi Laftit, Moroccan Minister of the Interior, will receive his Spanish and European counterparts in Rabat on Friday 8 July for a working meeting. Spain's Grande-Marlaska and the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, will travel to Morocco to study the problems of irregular immigration from Morocco. 

The meeting was announced by the EFE news agency, citing Spanish interior sources. The European Commission confirmed its attendance at the meeting to Atalayar. The meeting will take place two weeks after the massive assault on the Melilla fence that resulted in the death of at least 23 people of sub-Saharan origin, along with more than 200 injured, law enforcement officials among them. 

It also comes after the visit of the Morocco-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee to the European Parliament. A visit led by the Moroccan chairman of the committee, Lahcen Haddad. During their visit, the Moroccan parliamentarians had the opportunity to discuss the issue of security in the Mediterranean with their European counterparts, in particular with Antonio López-Istúriz, a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, who is preparing a dossier on relations with the southern Mediterranean neighbours in the area of security.

 Abdelmajid Bziouat/EUROPEAN COMISSION – La comisaria del Asuntos de Interior, Ylva Johansson, visita las instalaciones de Tanger-Med, Marruecos
Abdelmajid Bziouat/EUROPEAN COMISSION – The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, visits the facilities in Tanger-Med, Morocco.

The Melilla tragedy was also mentioned in the plenary session of the European Parliament. The issue was on the agenda of the 4 July session, when Swedish Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson took the floor to strongly condemn the role of illegal immigration mafias at the border with Morocco and deplore the loss of lives at the border. "My thoughts go out to their families. Violence at the EU's borders is unacceptable," Johansson said at the start of his speech to MEPs. 

"Morocco is a key partner in preventing illegal immigration. This year alone, Morocco prevented 26,000 illegal departures from its territory to the EU," she said. "We must strengthen our partnership with Morocco to fight illegal immigration. Melilla shows once again that Europe needs a Pact on Migration and Asylum. We must approve it 100%", concluded Commissioner Johansson in her speech on the 4th. 

Ylva Johansson's message in the Strasbourg Parliament can be interpreted as a declaration of intent prior to her meeting with the Moroccan Minister of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit. Together with the Spanish minister, Grande-Marlaska, it is to be hoped that these negotiations will speed up the process of reaching the aforementioned Pact on Immigration and Asylum, or at least boost the EU's involvement in its southern border. 

migrantes valla melilla
PHOTO/ARCHIVO - Jumping the Melilla fence

This involvement of the European Union is demanded by the National Police and Civil Guard trade unions assigned to the land borders of the two European possessions in Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, which year after year suffer from a lack of means, personnel and material to manage the border in the best possible way, "always guaranteeing respect for the security and life of all people", as trade union sources explain to Atalayar. 

The implementation of the European border agency, Frontex, in both autonomous cities has been raised by trade unions and experts on numerous occasions. However, nothing has been clarified yet about this new step. 

The Spanish government chose from the outset to point out the particular violence of the migrants in this latest assault on the fence. The Attorney General's Office, for which Dolores Delgado is responsible, launched an investigation through the immigration office a few days after the tragedy. The Spanish government agrees on several points with its Moroccan counterpart on the handling of this crisis, the result of the diplomatic harmony that has reigned in relations since last March. 

AFP/FADEL SENNA - Abdelouafi Laftit, ministro del Interior marroquí
AFP/FADEL SENNA - Abdelouafi Laftit, Moroccan Minister of the Interior

"We cannot ignore, and no one has doubted this, that it was a violent attack on Spanish borders, which are European borders", Interior Minister Grande Marlaska said this week in statements reported by EFE. 

On the Moroccan side, the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) has also launched an investigation through an information commission to clarify what happened in Nador. "We have set up an information commission that will hold meetings with all the parties concerned. We will share the findings and conclusions of this mission with the public and stakeholders as soon as possible," said Amina Bouayach, president of the CNDH.

Several human rights organisations, including the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH), claim that the death toll is higher than official sources and accuse the Moroccan state of undermining migrants' rights. The current interior minister, Abdelouafi Laftit, already has a history of friction with the AMDH, when in 2018 the minister accused the organisation of "taking advantage of any event to disrupt social order".