NGO urges to shut down migrant detention center in Barcelona
Barcelona (ACN).-The Migra Studium foundation denounced in his last report that the Zona Franca detention center for immigrants (CIE) in Barcelona breaks immigration law. The foundation urged authorities to close the CIE “since it does not fulfill its main objective”. The Jesuit organization argues that a good part of the detainees do not fulfill the requirements to be expelled within 60 days (maximum stay allowed), since they are undocumented immigrants, their countries of origin have not adopted a return agreement with Spain, they are ill or have relatives in the state. Moreover, the organization warned of a rising number of minors detained, the necessity of more interpreters and the need to improve living conditions. Therefore, the Migra Studium foundation claims the closing of all CIEs in Spain, and more still if they violate the law that is supposed to regulate the centers’ activity. For the time being, the organization suggests an improvement of the detainees’ living conditions.
On the other hand, the foundation acknowledged the support of the Barcelona city council. The city had tried to close the Zona Franca CIE alleging the lack of an activity license, which, according to Migra Studium “are good news, because it shows a raising awareness about the severe situation of the detained immigrants”.
The Migrat Studium foundation presented its annual report on the situation of the Zona Franca CIE based on 414 visits to 146 of the 640 detainees who passed through the center in 2016. The majority of the ones interviewed by Migra Studium are from Algeria (54%), followed by Morocco (13%). The other detainees are mainly from South America. 38% of the detainees interviewed were 18 to 30 years old, 23 declared to be minors, which could be confirmed in two cases. 74.6% did not have any criminal records. 57% of the interviewed immigrants had arrived by boat on the beaches of southern Spain and only 25% had received an administrative expulsion order. 13% had been arrested during documentation controls and 10% in specific police operations.
The organization expressed special concerns about the fact that more than 56% of the detainees were finally freed, which means their internment did not achieve the pursued objective. The immigration law created the CIE for ensuring the expulsion of irregular immigrants in less than two months. The irregular procedure of direct returns or with an administrative deportation order made up only 39% of the cases. However, more than half of the immigrants were confined between 40 and 60 days.
The organization also claimed that despite of the works on the centers’ infrastructures between 2015 and 2016, the facilities are not in suitable conditions and often overcrowded. This situation and the inability of communicating of a fourth part of the detainees, who do not have interpreter, create considerable tensions. Last autumn there were three bursts of violence with mutinies, aggressions and escape attempts. The explanations given were that good part of the physical aggressions took place among detainees, and the ones provoked by the Spanish police occurred while trying to stop the riots. However, there have been complaints before about verbal mistreatments by the policemen who regularly watch the centers.
Another reason of complaint is that many detainees have a court-appointed lawyer when arriving to Spain, often in the south, but once they are moved to Barcelona they cannot contact them again and get another lawyer assigned. Moreover, it is very difficult for detainees to file complaints directly to the Public Prosecutor's Office, the judges or the Ombudsman, since all the external communications have to pass through the director of the detention center. Often detainees do not know their legal or administrative situation, if they have the right to asylum, and if they will be expelled or not.
Finally, the Migra Studium foundation criticizes that the immigrants’ right of access to health services is not being respected in the CIEs, since many detainees do not receive the necessary treatment for psychical problems nor for HIV or chronic illnesses.