The Ceuta Prosecutor's Office denounces the vice president and the delegate of the Government of the autonomous city for the repatriation of Moroccan minors
A group of people, including minors, during the massive entrance to Ceuta in May 2021.
A group of people, including minors, during the massive entrance to Ceuta in May 2021.Mohamed Siali (EFE)

The Ceuta Area Prosecutor’s Office filed a complaint this Friday against the delegate of the Government of the autonomous city, Salvadora Mateos, and the vice president of Ceuta, María Isabel Deu, for an alleged continued crime of administrative prevarication. The Prosecutor’s Office considers that, during the return to Morocco of dozens of Moroccan minors last August, the legal provisions and the procedure established in the current legal system were omitted “voluntarily and knowingly.” The Prosecutor’s Office refers to the action coordinated by the local government and the Government Delegation, under instructions from the Ministry of the Interior, to return to Morocco some of the children who swam into the city during the massive entry in May last year. The procedure, initiated on August 13, intended to return at least 145 minors, but was paralyzed three days later by court order. The plan ended in the repatriation of 55 adolescents.

The case dates back to October last year, when the Association for Integral Development (L’Escolac) denounced the repatriation process before the Granada Prosecutor’s Office. At the end of the year, both Deu and Mateos had to testify about that controversial decision to return the minors in a group and in an express way that did not follow, among others, the procedure established by the immigration law. After the investigation by administrative means, the Public Prosecutor’s Office now decides to open criminal proceedings. The decision has been received with resignation by both parties.

Both the central and local governments have defended from the first day the legality of their actions and that the mechanism they agreed with Rabat to return the children followed the bilateral agreement between the two countries and respected the best interests of the minor. The bilateral agreement, however, maintains that it must be applied “in strict compliance with Spanish legislation, the rules and principles of international law and the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And this legal framework makes it clear that some procedures are necessary, such as the individual hearing of each minor or the socio-family reports that the country of origin has to prepare to decide what is in the best interest of each child, which is not necessarily to return to their country. If it was, the proper protocol was not followed to find out either. This is how the Prosecutor’s Office of the National Court interpreted it, when in September 2021, it considered the returns “full-fledged null” because “none of the guarantees and procedures required by law” were fulfilled.

In the investigative proceedings, the Prosecutor’s Office points out that not only have some of the mandatory procedures of the procedure been omitted, but all, “since there is no trace of the repatriation file required by the agreement between both countries,” explains the press release. . “There is no record of the initiation of the procedure, as well as the request for reports on the family situation of the minor, the allegations phase, the hearing process, the evidence phase, not even the resolution agreeing to the repatriation of the minors or the communication to the Prosecutor’s Office,” he adds.

After the judicial setbacks, the Executive launched in September a deployment of resources to, this time, repatriate the minors with all the guarantees established by law. Until today, no repatriation has been known.

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