Several lists, ordered from older to younger, of the minors taken in in the center of Santa Amelia marked the fate of the fifty adolescents who have already been returned to Morocco from Ceuta before the temporary stoppage of returns, decreed by a judge and doubts about the legality of a process that began on Friday. The Autonomous City Government chose to take back the “closest ages” to 18 years because “from a statistical point of view” they were less likely to be “vulnerable”. This is one of the few specific criteria on which, as detailed this Tuesday by the Ceuta president, Juan Jesús Vivas, his Executive has based the selection of the first adolescents who have been returned to Morocco within the operation coordinated with the Ministry of the Interior and that has the approval of Morocco.
The second condition is the place where the returns would begin: the Santa Amelia sports center, the reception space that is in the worst condition, according to Vivas. This center was also the only one that the Save The Children teams had not yet passed through, the NGO to which the city’s Children’s Area delegated individualized interviews to detect which of the children had a more serious situation. Although the local government and the department headed by Fernando Grande-Marlaska have defended at all times that the return plan would not include vulnerable minors, the criteria applied for the selection of these adolescents handed over to the Moroccan authorities show that the device has not included sufficient guarantees to avoid it.
The Prosecutor’s Office itself has left it in writing, which according to the law must issue a report that is mandatory, and that this Monday went to the Interior to justify the choice of minors repatriated to Morocco.
“The minors [devueltos] they were minors compared to which no warning had been given [de vulnerabilidad], from what we understood that they were the first to leave, “the president of Ceuta tried to dispatch the issue this Tuesday at a press conference, at the insistence of journalists. Both Vivas and the vice president of the city, Mabel Deu, point out to The SAMU Foundation, subsidized to manage the Santa Amelia center, as responsible for selecting vulnerable profiles, who will have preference to avoid the return trip. But Samu was not the organization in charge of conducting the individualized interviews, but rather the Minor Area of Ceuta had entrusted this task to Save The Children, after signing a collaboration agreement with the local government.
“It was established that Save The Children was going to do the interviews to detect vulnerabilities, and where appropriate, proceed with family reunification in Morocco, but in Santa Amelia we had not done any. That does not mean that there were no vulnerable cases”, indicates Catalina Perazzo, director of awareness of Save The Children, one of the organizations that has requested the stoppage of the process.
“Samu is the organization that coordinates the center, he can see a vulnerability with the naked eye, such as a person who requires immediate medical attention or if a child transmits a particular circumstance to him. But Samu does not do individualized interviews that are standardized internationally so that there are guarantees “. The Samu Foundation has not yet responded to questions from elDiario.es.
Justification for the lack of individualized interviews
The president justified this Tuesday that individualized interviews had not been carried out, as required by law, prior to the return of the more than 50 minors who have already been returned to Morocco. “The agreement between Spain and Morocco only says that the governments will agree on how to carry them out, always fulfilling the interest of the minor. Nowhere does it say that you have to have individualized interviews,” Vivas has justified, after A Ceutí court has warned that the pact in which the Interior and the local government are protected to activate the return plan must also “comply with Spanish legislation”, which requires that each case be studied.
Legal sources consulted by elDiario.es maintain that the agreement with Morocco agreed by the Spanish Government does not exempt from compliance with the immigration law.
Throughout the press conference, the president and vice president were asked up to three times about how and who has determined the vulnerability of the minors whose names are part of the lists of children that the Samu Foundation ended up introducing, after the indication of the local government, in a van heading to the border on the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th, until the provisional stoppage of returns.
“Samu is the institution that is in contact with minors,” Vivas responded, before clarifying that “there is no established vulnerability” but that they are based on “a bit of perception and technical criteria.” However, from Save The Children, they contradict this statement: the interview system to detect the vulnerabilities of minors is based on “standardized tools” used globally.
Perazzo details some of the characteristics of this mechanism, based in the first place on a “semi-open” interview, which seeks to generate a climate of trust, speaking in their language and providing information. “Little by little, the technicians are having the conversation about his family, in what conditions he came, why he came, if he wants to return or not and what is, if he has, a situation of vulnerability”.
From June to early July, the organization has conducted 352 interviews with Moroccan minors who arrived in Ceuta between May 17 and 19. About a quarter of the migrant children he interviewed had suffered physical violence, abuse or mistreatment in their country of origin. One in six declared suffering torture or degrading treatment before arriving in Spain, according to data provided by Save The Children.
The city’s Minors’ Area has also not participated in detecting the vulnerable profiles of children returned to Morocco. As those responsible for the minors who are under the custody of the local government, their technicians registered an appeal before the Prosecutor’s Office to “avoid the violation of rights” of the children and adolescents who were still in Ceuta, after learning that the plan of Return to Morocco would be activated before the end of all the individualized interviews and without meeting the standards recommended by the specialists. The letter warns that the Area officials had been excluded from the process and denounces “returns without guarantees” that, according to the institution, were being committed.
Interior sources assure that their Ministry has no responsibility in the selection of returned minors, since the device for identifying the vulnerabilities of expelled adolescents is the responsibility of the autonomous city. The Ceuta Ministry of the Presidency, for its part, have not responded to elDiario.es’s questions.