SOUTHERN BORDER PROJECT: REASONS TO BE. TO BE SIDE BY SIDE TO ACCOMPANY - IN FRONT TO WATCH OVER.

We often observe how our presence on the ground as “third party witnesses” disturbs public servants and police officers, who know that our presence limits their freedom to dispose at will with the lives of the people on the move, and restricts their ability to act with impunity.


We hope that very soon this will cease to be the case, and that people on the move will be treated with the attention, dignity and respect that all people deserve. As long as this state of affairs continues, we will continue to stand side by side with people on the move, and to stand in front of these public institutions, in order to ensure that the law and human rights are respected.


Although this is sadly not always the case, last week we received good news concerning several of the people on the move who we work with! We think it right to share all kinds of experiences, the most difficult ones but also the ones that motivate us to continue resisting injustice.


We denounce the constant violations of human rights in Melilla.


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As part of our Southern Border project in Melilla, we support migrant young people with the processing of their documents. Often, these young people face administrative discrimination, which is one area where our presence helps to put pressure on public institutions to fulfill their responsibilities.

We received further proof of this last week: we accompanied two boys to the port, who had managed to get all the necessary documents that allow them to travel to mainland Spain. This kind of support is really important for young people attempting to travel through Melilla's port, because they often find themselves refused by the security controls before boarding the boat, even when all their documents are in order.


This is what happened last week: the two boys had fulfilled all the legal requirements that allow them to travel to mainland Spain, as well as following the public health guidelines, but they were refused by the security controls in the port. The pretext for this refusal was that the date of the medical appointment that one of the boys had was a few days after the date of travel, and that they did not have passports.


We know from past experiences that in these kinds of situations, our presence is vital in order to prevent the police from misusing their power, by asking for a whole host of false requirements that prevent the young people from travelling to the mainland. This kind of arbitrary decision-making is unjust, but we are really pleased that we were able to be there with the boys, well-informed and with knowledge of what the law actually says, so that in the end they were able to board!


As well as accompanying young people to the port, the team of volunteers in Melilla accompanies the people we work with to different administrative offices in the city, including the Immigration Office, the headquarters of the National Police, and council offices. For example, we give advice and accompany young migrant people in the process of applying for their “Foreigner Identity Card”. This process includes taking fingerprints, and it is often a very long and difficult procedure due to the amount of documents required. Our presence and support, and our legal knowledge, can help to accelerate the process.


We are aware that all of these processes are difficult for any person without legal and administrative knowledge. Added to that is the fact that Spanish is not the mother-tongue of the people we work with, and they are not familiar with the Spanish bureaucratic system, resulting in a maze of confusion and uncertainty. On top of all this, as we mentioned before, administrative discrimination is built into public institutions, and affects people on the move who are trying to get their documents sorted so that they can continue with their lives.


We often observe how our presence on the ground as “third party witnesses” disturbs public servants and police officers, who know that our presence limits their freedom to dispose at will with the lives of the people on the move, and restricts their ability to act with impunity.


We hope that very soon this will cease to be the case, and that people on the move will be treated with the attention, dignity and respect that all people deserve. As long as this state of affairs continues, we will continue to stand side by side with people on the move, and to stand in front of these public institutions, in order to ensure that the law and human rights are respected.


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