Wednesday, July 6

The stopper in the age tests for migrants fuels the confrontation between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Government of the Canary Islands


A complaint for alleged sexual abuse of migrant minors has led to an exchange of accusations between the chief prosecutor of Las Palmas, Beatriz Sánchez, and the counselor for Social Rights, Noemí Santana. The crossfire, which began with the denunciation of alleged rapes in the Puerto Bello juvenile center, in the south of Gran Canaria, has spread to the cap in the age determination tests. The first disagreement dates back to November 2020, when the superior prosecutor of the Canary Islands ordered the Las Palmas Prosecutor’s Office to change the order to separate families who arrived on the islands in boats and cayucos for months to verify their relationship with DNA tests. East modus operandi It caused children up to three years of age who had arrived in the Archipelago with a family member to spend months in spaces of the Canarian Government reserved for unaccompanied minors.

The Las Palmas Prosecutor’s Office separates migrant children from their mothers for up to two months while waiting for DNA tests

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The decision put to the limit Social Rights, which at that time protected 1,200 migrants in 15 saturated establishments in the middle of the rebound in boat arrivals to the Canary Islands. For this reason, the Santana area demanded from the Public Prosecutor a clear and written criterion, since this practice was not applied in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Meanwhile, Beatriz Sánchez defended that the protocol was a “precautionary measure” to prevent the trafficking of minors and ensured that they had the endorsement of the General Directorate for Child Protection.

This year, the first reproach came on June 16, when the media echoed an anonymous complaint sent on May 31 by a group of workers to both the Ministry of Social Rights and the Mogán City Council. The letter warned that one minor had allegedly been sexually abused and three others were being sexually exploited inside and outside the establishment. Beatriz Sánchez criticized having found out from the press and assured that the only complaint she received was through the mayor of Mogán, Onalia Bueno.

The general director of Child and Family Protection, Iratxe Serrano, responded in a radio interview that an anonymous email “was not a sufficient basis” to report. The received complaint was put “in quarantine”, but the Government of the Canary Islands opened an investigation and ten days later an inspection took place in the center. The technicians sent by Social Rights, as Canarian President Ángel Víctor Torres explained on Tuesday, failed to identify any indication that these abuses were taking place. However, as the workers explained in their brief, months ago one of the victims of the alleged violations escaped from the remedy to avoid these abuses and also avoid the ridicule of their colleagues.

Iratxe Serrano has refuted the accusations of the chief prosecutor about the lack of communication between both parties and has insisted that the General Directorate has informed the prosecutor for minors, Aurora Pérez, on a daily basis about this matter and others related to migrant minors.

Age tests

The counselor Noemí Santana has pointed out as origin of the problems that arise in the centers for minors to the coexistence of children and adults in the same spaces. “This is due to the delay in the legal age decrees and subsequent delay in removing the elderly from said centers (when it is already proven that they are older),” he said. In addition, he insisted that his area has been “warning for months of the enormous problem of having adults in juvenile centers.” On June 22, Santana defended that there is “total transparency” regarding the resources for unaccompanied migrant minors and that they are doing “a good job.”

Social Rights sources have explained to this newspaper that 1,743 migrants protected by the Canary Islands are still awaiting a test to determine their age. 68% of the 2,534 total. For this reason, they have asked the Prosecutor’s Office to expedite the legal age decrees to prevent the coexistence of the elderly and minors. A situation that has lasted for more than a year.

250 people who already have the result of their test, are still waiting for the Prosecutor to order their referral. Another 16 are pending transfer by the National Police for having been denounced for their behavior even on more than one occasion.

To this, Beatriz Sánchez has responded in an interview with Canary 7. “Santana lacks to know many details and has undertaken a forward flight,” he said. Migrant minors “need protection and it is up to the Canary Government to provide it,” the prosecutor stressed. Regarding the age tests, Sánchez wanted to make it clear that the Prosecutor’s Office “does not do the tests”, it only orders them.

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