The title of this column is a verbatim quote from a tweet from the president of the Spanish government on June 9, 2020 talking about the law on the protection of children. An appointment that contrasts with the sad and violent reality that more than 750 Moroccan children and adolescents live today, whom the Minister of the Interior has been returning in conditions of indignity and illegality.
That these returns have been carried out in conditions of indignity is something that does not seem to matter for a long time to Minister Marlaska, who has proven experience in taking forward the human rights of migrants. He is the same minister who has taken pains to make the international protection system more restrictive, who is an expert in systematic denials of asylum and who supports a system of imprisonment of foreigners for administrative, non-criminal offenses and in quite deplorable conditions – the CIES-.
So, while we cannot appeal to morality and respect for human dignity, since it seems to matter little as far as migration is concerned to the Spanish government; What we do have to appeal to is international commitments and national and international state responsibility in matters of human rights. What is being done with minors in Ceuta is an absolute arbitrariness that contradicts all legal postulates and international human rights law, especially considering that they are people who enjoy reinforced protection in legal matters, but this the Minister Marlaska and the President of the Government already know it and these days the Prosecutor’s Office, the Ombudsman, various NGOs, are reminding them of this. Spanish law, including his coworker, the Minister of Social Rights – in whose powers the Directorate of the Rights of Children and Adolescents is responsible – who was not consulted about what he was planning to do and who did not hesitate to warn him about the faults that he was committing.
The absurdity and arbitrariness are so evident that the case has quickly transcended international mechanisms in the field of human rights and has deserved the reproach of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and the intervention of the United Nations Committee for the Children’s rights.
What Marlaska does with Moroccan children is not an “assisted return” as he has stated to the media, it is impossible for a voluntary procedure to materialize with those who have not had the opportunity to express their will and those who have been violated the due process. The Constitutional Court on two occasions (judgment 183 and 184 both of December 22, 2008) has recognized the right of minors to be heard in any process that entails their repatriation and to judicially oppose it. Insisting that this procedure must be governed by the assessment of the best interests of the minor. Come on, what national and international legal argumentation is not missed in this case.
Now, that this institutional violence falls on migrant children is not something that should surprise us.. Unfortunately, in Spain thousands of children and adolescents (accompanied and unaccompanied) suffer bureaucratic barriers that prevent them from accessing their most basic rights every day. Many are not guaranteed or have the right to officially identify themselves, they do not have documentation or it has expired and thus do not have access to other rights such as health, education, etc. The same Ministry that today casts Moroccan children to their fate is the one that denies the right of asylum to children who flee because of the risks they run in their country (torture, labor exploitation, rapes, homicides, femicides, etc.) and that it also does it deliberately without giving an iota of credibility to their stories and the danger they are in.
Unfortunately in Spain thousands of children and adolescents (accompanied and unaccompanied) suffer bureaucratic barriers that prevent them from accessing their most basic rights every day
These same asylum denials cause that today a huge number of girls and boys suffer from health exclusions in Spain and I also say this with absolute knowledge of the facts, living from my professional practice with a migrant population, the daily struggle so that in the Health Centers They are cared for, because regardless of whether they are babies or have risky pathologies, access to health is denied them. That “duty of every government” that the president declared a year ago when talking about the childhood law, apparently does not concern him with regard to migrant children. Faced with that childhood that is not white and has no money. This is not only institutional violence, it is also institutional racism, it is colonialism. It is so assumed that as “they” are, it is okay to return them like this, it is okay to deny them entry into the country, it is okay that they do not have access to all their rights, it is okay for them not to want to stay and for others not to come and if It is not right, because at least we are not in a hurry to solve anything because it is not that serious either.
That “duty of every government” that the president declared a year ago when talking about the childhood law, apparently does not compel him in the face of migrant children. Facing that childhood that is not white and has no money
It is not possible for a government that presents itself as the most progressive in the history of Spain to proceed as its opposition would. The difference between what the Government does with migrant children and what the right says it would do with it is that discursively and materially, it would be expected from the right.
How much longer do we have to wait for the effective materialization of human rights and the real consideration of the best interests of the minor?
To end a little reminder:
“A prosperous country can only be built on the basis of a safe and happy childhood” Pedro Sánchez (2018)