Immigration detention centers are covert prisons trapping people who seek a seemingly better life. These governmental centers in Europe and especially in Spain constantly violate human right laws.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Police officer: “What’s this that you’re doing? Are these cards? Take them out of here. Stand up over there. Up. Let that go. You, stand up over there. Stand up, up.
Put your head down. Spread out.
I want you to be completely quiet. And don’t move. Don’t turn around. Quiet. Look at your hands. Hands up.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Police officer: “Here…quiet, quiet, quiet. You, quiet.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Police officer: “Look at me, look at me. On your knees, come on, on your knees. Put your head down, hand on your neck. Look down. Silence.”
Narration: On the morning of the 21st or 22nd of April, 2012, two police officers came to search the cells a group of prisoners were sharing, on the pretext that it smelled of smoke. They left without any incriminating evidence, but a few minutes later, one of the officers returned and, according to the prisoners, beat them brutally. A few days later, the officers were deported to their country of origin. Initially the case was dismissed, but recently it has been reopened.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ana Fornes, Spokesperson, CIEs NO Campaign: “What you see behind me is the Zapadores Detention Center for Migrants. It’s located inside a much bigger compound - the Zapadores police compound. Behind us on the left side are the Department for Migrants; and the Office for Migrants of the National Police. And in this part over here is the Detention Center for Migrants.
This center is in a very new building - it’s a geometric concrete block with a small yard attached. As you can see there is no sign that indicates it is anything at all. We are practically in the city center of Valencia, about a kilometer inside the city center. This blue door is used by the people to enter, yes; prisoners’ family members use it also.
We had a big case in 2012. At that time there were children detained here at the detention center. We presented their birth certificates to the Juvenile Prosecution Services. We conducted a random visit on a Sunday morning and we discovered that on Saturday, four minors here received abusive treatment. That Sunday, we paid an external visit with an external doctor. We presented the complaint to the court and then on Wednesday, they were expelled. This is a measure that, in general in the detention centers for migrants has become very common. Every time a case of death or a possible case of abusive treatment such as torture arises, the victim and any witnesses are expelled quickly. And there have been cases, and there still are, in this CIE and in many others of abusive treatment, complaints of torture, deaths and much more.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Elhadji Ndiaye from Senegal: “I’m here to see a friend. He has been here for a week; he was detained because he had no papers. They keep people in this place like in a jail, but they have done nothing, they committed no crimes. When they apprehended him he had no documents. Generally, they take people to a detention center, but this is not one of those. This is a prison; it’s a jail. I’m not here to give him any advice, I can’t do anything. I just came to give him my support.
I also came to this place on a ‘pateras’ boat with some friends. I’ve been here eight years now. Two years ago I was brought to a detention center for minors, too.”
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Elhadji Ndiaye from Senegal: “There I got my papers and I was free to make my life. I met a lot of people when I was coming to Europe who, after just four years have gotten all they wanted: a house, a car… everything.”
Narration: Despite extensive covered by the media and the opinions of the majority of the people, only 4% of immigrants actually come to Spain by illegal boats. But how does this trip begin?
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marc Sango, From Burkina Faso: “I arrived in Spain in 2010. While I was living in Burkino Faso, one of my cousins was living here in Spain. One day while thinking I said to myself, ‘why don’t you do what he did? Why don’t you pack everything and go to Spain?’ My father gave me the money that was supposed to pay my studies, and I used it to leave my country. One morning I awoke very early, I turned my back, and I left. I found a Touareg who told me he could take me to Spain. We gave him about 70 Euros, or something like that. Then he said he needed to find more people interested because the two of us were not enough. We hung around the whole day drinking only water and eating bread. He came days later with more people.
We traveled through the desert. It took us about three days to cross it. After around 30 kilometers or maybe more, he said, ‘look! Go that way and Spain is behind that mountain’. We had been completely fooled. I only had a pair of sandals and my feet were bleeding. It was awful. I was crying. Fortunately, we found a Touareg village where they treated us very well and gave us water and bread; and they asked us where we were going. We answered, ‘to Spain’, and a woman said to us: ‘You’re crazy. Spain is that way. It’s a long trip to get there.’
I went to the border of Morocco and Algeria. There were a lot and I mean a lot of Africans… really, a lot of them. Some had been there for 8 or 10 years wanting to get to Spain. If they ask you to pay them 1,500 Euros, you give the money to them.
It was December 30, 2009 when a Moroccan guy came to me with a gun, a machete and a stick - like a golf stick. He said, ‘get ready, we are going to Spain tonight’. Fast, fast, fast, he was hitting us and hitting us and pointing at us with his gun. When I arrived at the sea, I had never seen the sea before; I had never been close to it, so when I saw the waves I was terrified.
‘No, no, no, I’m not going into the boat, no way, no.’ A friend said to me: ‘Dude, you have to. Don’t you see the gun and the machete? If you don’t do it, they’ll kill you.’ Then I prayed and got into the boat.
It took us about 24 hours. First we were stopped by the Guardia Civil and they asked us how many we were. We were 46. When we got there we were not able to walk; people were throwing up, and crying. Thirty minutes later the Red Cross arrived, and after that they took us to the police station for questioning. At the time, I was thirteen years old.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Ibrahima Balde, from Senegal: “In my case, the journey to Spain was like a dream because I’d always had this dream to go to Europe. I studied until the age of 25 and when I finished my studies I moved to a city in Senegal called ‘Ambur’ to work in the hotel industry. I was earning 150 Euros a month, but I wanted to have a better future. The tourists used to tell us, and especially to me for example, to come to Europe as if Santa Claus was living in Europe. One day I heard from a friend that there were some ‘pateras’ boats leaving for Spain. The trip was about 800 Euros. It was easier than getting a visa to come to Europe, which would’ve cost around 5,000 or 6,000 Euros. When you are in need, you don’t really understand the dangers ahead. You realize the risks when it’s too late and you are in the middle of the sea.
Then I gave him the money, he wrote down my phone number and told me he was going to call me in more or less two weeks. One afternoon - it was around 8pm or 9 pm - he told me that my trip was arranged for that same day, at midnight.
In the ‘pateras’ boat we were 98 people. There was water and food, but no one ate anything, we were all too afraid. We left on Friday 12th and we arrived at Costa del Hierro on the 18th, a week later.”
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish]Ibrahima Balde, from Senegal: “On arrival we were detained by the Spanish Civil Guard who kept us till the afternoon and then sent us to the island of Tenerife. We stayed there for the weekend, in a police station.
Then we were sent to a garage where they had around 800 people like me. In 2006, pateras would arrive very frequently. We were kept at that location for another weekend.”
Narration: 96 percent of the illegal immigrants navigate the French-Spanish border and to the airport of Barajas. Annually, among 40,000 or 50,000 become victims of sexual slavery - It’s the second most profitable business after weapons trafficking; the third is drug dealing.
SOUNDBITE [Portuguese] Bibiane Cristina Santana From Brazil: “I arrived in Spain when I was 18. I came here, sold to the mafia who brought me here. Since I arrived in Spain I’ve been working as a prostitute. They were clear and told me the kind of job I was going to do. Then I came.
I stopped working for a long time because I fell in love with one of my clients. He took me out of that life and we were married for four years. The first few months were wonderful because I really was in love with him; but after three months I fell pregnant and 15 days after I gave birth he started beating me - It was the first time he did that. I was beaten up so badly by him that I end up in hospital. Apparently, he had been a drug addict practically his whole life and I never knew it. Then his life became a complete mess and he was sent to jail. I kept the baby.
From the hospital I was sent directly to a shelter house for abused women in Huelva. Four months later he found me. I forgave him and we got back together again. But then he started to beat me again and treat me terribly, and that became a normal thing.
I keep drinking and stops using drugs, alcohol. Then he took control over my child and forced me to bring money for the house as a prostitute, the way I had done before. At the end, I was being used and abused and basically he became my pimp.
He later threatened me saying I can’t see my child anymore, even though I was the one who took care of him all this time. He asked for a restraining order. I had to leave the house because of this order and now I can´t come close to my child anymore.
I tried to kill myself taking pills - something quite normal. I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward in Seville. I said to myself that I had to leave this place; and I had to be cured at all costs. After a while I was sent to ‘Jerez de la Frontera’ and there I received help from the institute’s project manager. After more or less two months I received a letter saying that I had to go to prison in order to execute my deportation orders out of the country.
I was very worried. I thought about my situation it and asked the institution for permission to appear on television to tell my story; look for some help; find a way forward. I’m the mother of that child! How can they tear me away from my child if I’m trying to become cured?
The National Police called the institution looking for me. They sent me a subpoena to appear at 9am. When I arrived they said to me, “Mrs. Bibiabe, sit down, we are going to read you your rights. You are under arrest and will be sent to the detention center for migrants so that they can deport you back to your country.”
Narration: What is a detention center for migrants?
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Cristina Manzanedo, Lawyer of the ONG People United: “The detentions centers for migrants are covered by the EU legislation - because they are all over Europe, and in the Spanish legislation. It’s an exceptional measure, because freedom is the standard.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Santiago Yerga, Lawyer and former immigration technical advisor for the Socialist government: “It’s the first place where people are detained, whether to ensure their presence during the management of an expulsion file or to execute a deportation order, whenever it’s possible. And I stress, only when it’s possible.”
TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Cristina Manzanedo, Lawyer of the ONG People United: “In exceptional circumstances a person can be arrested when certain terms provided by the law are set out. It is especially for when there’s a risk of escape or risk of danger to public safety. And it’s always at a non-prison facility to execute a deportation. The only right they don’t have while they are detained in those places is the right to freedom. The rest of their civil rights remain. However, in practice, they are deprived of more than just freedom.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Santiago Yerga, Lawyer and former immigration technical advisor for the Socialist government: “In Andalusia, we have ‘two and a half’ detention centers for migrants. Let me explain why the half. There is one in Malaga, and in the province of Cadiz we have another, which is a detention center in Algeciras; and we have a small branch in Tarifa.”
Narration: Nowadays, only the one in Algeciras is still active and the branch in Tarifa. In June 2012, after many negative reports, the center in Malaga was closed down. In the neighborhood of Palma, Palmilla - the poorest district in the city, a location in which more than 40% of residents are migrants, we found Rida who came to Spain via the ferries that arrive at Algeciras. Rida has been deported 17 times and detained at others. He has 21 days’ experience of the living conditions at the Capuchinos’ CIE.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rida El Faqdi, From Morocco: “I’m from Morocco and I’m 24 years old. When I was 16 more or less, I decided to leave my country. I wasn’t really thinking to come to Spain; I was thinking of going further - the farther the better. Whenever I made the attempt, every time I would dress elegantly, merge in with the other passengers, with the buses and people. There are many fences and I would jump over them. Sometimes there is a lot of security - a lot; and many cameras. I would wait for security to look away or for them to be occupied with something else.
The transport takes me to the ship, or near the ship. Once I’m there, there are buses, trucks, cars that I can get in - There is not much security there. Before arriving at the area where the ferry is, yes, there is security; but once you are close to the ship, not too much security; then what I do is find a car and hide under it. The wheels are small, but you have the part of the tubes that connect the wheels and so I got in there. Once I’m on the ship, I find a quiet place to hold up. When the ship arrives in Algeciras I sneak off.
So, I got off at Algeciras and I was captured by the police and sent to a juvenile facility where I stayed for more than a year. Well, after three months I got my papers and started looking for a job. I was working with a guy at a butcher’s shop. He lent me 3,000 Euros and then what happened? After a while he asked or his money back. I answered, “Ok, I’m working with you and I’ll pay you bit by bit.” His answer is “No, I have a better way.” He wanted me to go to Morocco and bring in some drugs. He bought two kilos and told me to bring them here, but before I got here I was caught, so I couldn’t do it. When I was caught, they took me directly to the police station, directly to the CIE - the one in Malaga.”
Narration: In the neighborhood of Palmilla lives activist and Human Rights lawyer José Cosin, a person who knows well the detention center for migrants in Malaga, as he helped to closed it completely.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Cosin, Human Rights activist and lawyer: “I’ve been many times, but in short periods of time. Whenever you were there, you felt a terrible sadness. It’s a dirty place, leaking all the time. It used to be the building for the police’s canine unit, but they vacated due to the lack of sanitary conditions to keep the dogs… but they were fine to keep migrants there.
Supposedly, the detention center is not a prison, but… that’s what they say, although everything else is like a prison or worse. In prison there are penitentiary rules that cover the rights of prisoners. However, these detention centers are overcrowded; these innocent migrants with no prior criminal records are put together with other prisoners that maybe dangerous and due to their fears of deportation might become very violent.”
TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Cosin, Human Rights activist and lawyer: “There was a lot of people suffering, many innocent people, and ordinary people like you or me: architects, professionals; they were at risk as they were not receiving the proper attention. The police officers feel overwhelmed because they are not doctors. There is no thought to ever call on emergency medical services and there has been many… well, several cases of death in custody in Spain that in my opinion, the Spanish prison administration are responsible for because they hadn’t monitored the physical health of the people in their custody.”
Still on screen:Doctors at the detentions center on nine occasions have been seen to have ignored the serious conditions of the deceased in custody.
Samba Martine´s death could have been avoided.
Why did my daughter die?
A young African man died in a detention center for migrants in Barcelona - The cause might have been a heart attack due to the effects of a hunger strike.
A 21 year-old young from Conakry, Guinea is dead. The National Police Department has announced that, according to early indications, the deceased showed no symptoms of ill health prior to his death.
Death and opacity in the detentions center for migrants of the Free Zone.
Song [Spanish]: “I’ve been for many years so far from my people and my home. The faces of my dad and my mom are starting to blur in my memory. I still don’t understand what my crime is. Why a man can be illegal… Can he be illegal? What kinds of laws condemn a person because they suffer a miserable salary and need a piece of bread? They want to find me. They want to capture me. They want to deport me. They call me illegal. They want to find me. They want to capture me.”
Narration: And how is life inside these centers?
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rida El Faqdi, From Morocco: “You wake up at 8 o’clock in the morning; then you come down at 8 or between 8 and 8:30 at the latest. You come down and you have a coffee and a couple of cupcakes; then we stay in the yard or we sit at a place with tables. You can play Parcheesi or watch TV and so on. It’s a rundown old building, and it could fall down any day. There were fences inside.
At times one of the inmates might make a joke with someone else or whatever, and the officer starts thinking - of course because he might not understand what they are saying, and he concludes that they are fighting, so he calls them over to the widow. And when they go they try to explain and maybe he still doesn’t understand or he doesn’t want to, you know what I mean… So sometimes they put them in there and beat them. They try not to leave any mark in case the inmate decides to report it or something.”
Narration: We have no rights. Why?
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Cosin, Human Rights activist and lawyer: “The story here at Capuchinos is one of scandal, sadness and suffering. The first case of details becoming public they made the international media and they were reports of sexual abuse of the women at the detention centers for migrants at the hands of those that were supposed to protect them - the national police. Witnesses and the victims were all deported immediately so as to stop them from testifying. Spanish legislation however, stipulates that whenever there is a pending trial those involved cannot be deported. The police officers accused of sexual abuse have seen their jobs and salaries suspended although I have information that they still work for the police institutions.
In the end we achieved closing the place down. Although I always say it’s a bittersweet victory because all they do is traffic them into other detention centers. The case was closed in this instance because for them it was a cheaper way out than solving it. That’s why I say it’s bittersweet because there are many CIEs that still need to be closed. Plenty of them!
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marc Sango, From Burkina Faso: “I was brought here to Tarifa to this center. When we got here it was very late at night. We were all in handcuffs. Around 20 police officers stood around us; watching us. They gave us food, a blanket, a towel, a toothbrush, soap and then we were sent to a room - they showed us the rooms and all that.”
TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marc Sango, From Burkina Faso: “The next morning a doctor came to give us all a medical review; they gave us some pills and that was it - I took them without knowing what they even were. Inside, the center is like a prison. There are bunk beds, one on top of the other; there are no sanitary conditions and bathrooms are terrible. It’s horrible! Also, the blanket and towel, everything smelled awful and the cell was cold inside because it was January - the cold was unbearable. It was dark because in our section the lights weren’t working. In the mornings they would take us out to the yard for half an hour to an hour, but that was never enough. Basically half an hour, and then inside again! Bored, we would play cards or something else to get distracted. That was all. Then we went to bed to sleep. You see the world from a different perspective in that place.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ibrahima Balde, From Senegal: “When I was in Senegal I thought I was living in a paradise. But then soon after I arrived I faced huge problems and difficulties. I would ask myself why I didn’t stay in my country… in my own country.
The day we arrived on the island of El Hierro a lawyer came and told us that we had nothing to be worried about. She said she was there to help us and that she was our lawyer, but that was the last time we saw her since we got off the ship near Tenerife. The policemen had their offices there in the building and the Red Cross came to assist some of us who were sick. There were 16 people to a room; we had bunk beds. It was the raining season; it rained all the time, which completely flooded the room. Life was very hard there, uh.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Bibiane Cristina Santana, From Brazil: “It’s a hostile place; a place where you feel really alone. The cell door is open because there is a yard. The mattress was made of plastic, blankets smelled terribly, the water was cold and the food something basic, very basic. For breakfast: bread, butter and milk with cold coffee - nothing hot was available. While you ate your meal the cameras watched you - the police would watch you from the other side.
You can’t take anything with you back to the room; it’s forbidden to have a mobile phone and if you want to make a phone call you have to pay. The prices charged for things are extremely high and everything around you is destroyed. Even with a daily cleaning service that disinfects everything it’s impossible to sit on a toilet. It’s impossible to take a shower or even try to. I used to put a trash bag on the floor - the only one we were given – so as not to have any direct contact with the floor.
Ten days later, I received a letter saying that I was going to be released because someone had requested a pardon of my sentence, which was delivered in Madrid. Once it was received in Madrid, they released me.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marc Sango, From Burkina Faso: “It was a normal day. I was heading out to see my girlfriend when a car pulled up next to me. It was the police asking for my I.D. I said I had nothing on me and so they took me to the police station. They took my fingerprints, gave me an order of deportation and took me to Algeciras to the CIE of Algeciras preparing to send me back to my country. The detention center of Algeciras is like a living hell. No human being deserves to live the way they lived there.”
Still on screen: Algeciras inmate reports the ‘precarious facilities’ and the treatment they were given there.
“The best solution is to close the detention center for migrants in Algeciras.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Santiago Yerga Lawyer and former immigration technical advisor for the Socialist government: “It is well known migration law establishes that detention centers can’t have a prison nature. But, let’s not fool ourselves, the detentions center of Algeciras is the old prison of Algeciras. The prison was closed because, surprisingly, it didn’t pass the required conditions to house people that were there serving a prison term. And I say surprisingly because if it was not appropriate to house prisoners, apart from having to serve a sentence according to our Spanish constitution - how is it now appropriate to house these people who have only committed an administrative infringement?”
TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marc Sango, From Burkina Faso: “When you first arrive there, they frisk you, and before that, they provide you with documents setting out your rights; and in Spanish, French, English - for those who speak other languages. If you don’t speak those languages it means nothing to you. After that, they give you a towel - like they do here only dirtier, (laughter)… dirtier. The worst thing is the toilets, they smell very bad; and also food is impossible to eat.
It’s not the way to treat a human being; there is no reason to treat us like that. I get very angry because of that. The police officers are very violent there - they do everything there with brutality. They tell you, “you go there… come here… make a line”, and they do it while beating you and beating other people; and it hurts. It really hurts.
I remember one day we were having lunch and there was a guy - I don’t know what he did, something with the food, yes - The officer told him to sit down in a certain place, but he said he wanted to go somewhere else. Then the officer said no and came to him and they were beating and beating him so bad that his back swelled up.
The thing is that ‘they’ have the last word and we have to do whatever they say. Nobody can talk - There was a child crying and shouting who was running under a table. Then the officer grabbed him by the hand and started beating him. That’s not right!”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Serafín Giral, Federal Police Union spokesperson: “It is established by law that we have to be there, but to be honest, the only work we do there is surveillance. The only thing that we can say - on behalf of the National Police Department - is that by judicial decree we have to watch the people who are in the detention centers for migrants… but they have all they their rights, except for the right to freedom.
We don’t have any power at all to change things. We only have the duty to enforce the law. That’s our job. I don’t understand at all why a police officer would want to intentionally harm or cause physical damage to any inmate. A police officer earns 1,600 Euros a month, so it would be really stupid to harm someone and by doing so endanger his economical stability, the stability of his family, and his livelihood.
As in every other job, a police officer makes mistakes, but that’s what laws are for. Criminal law is not aimed at police officers, but the internal regulations are actually stricter than the criminal law. There are isolated problems, but it is one case out of a thousand. There are also the rogue inmates, and I think it’s logical to detainees that if you present a report against a police officer – that is, the person in charge of their surveillance - they can delay or even avoid their deportation out of Spain. We are allowing - I mean the law is allowing - this practice and it’s terrible.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Santiago Yerga, Lawyer and former immigration technical advisor for the Socialist government: “But we should realize that many or at least some of the detainees come across from other penitentiaries where violence might have been used to try to obtain more freedom or better conditions. In those places, I have seen hand-made guns produced by the inmates. It’s a scandalous. I’ve seen spikes made out of a toothbrush; even chain sticks made also of toothbrush. I mean, you can find anything!”
Narration: If you are thinking that the way these places operate is complicated, Conrado’s case is much harder to understand. A young man, born in Spain, who after thirty years received an order to be deported out of his own country.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Conrado Semedo, From Spain: “I was sent to the detention center due to a low level case of drug dealing. I served three years in prison at the penitentiary center of Mansilla de Leon. On my last day, my mother came to look after me and when I came out I found the National Police waiting there for the purpose of deporting me to Cape Verde - my parent’s country.”
TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Conrado Semedo, From Spain: “I was born in Bienvivre, a village in Leon, Bierzo. I have been living there my whole life. My parents came from Cape Verde 35 years ago. How is it possible that a person who was born in Spain is sent to a detentions center for migrants? The truth is that I don’t know why. They say it’s because I haven’t a Spanish ID card. I’ve always been here legally. I’ve always had all my papers in order. I’ve had a residence permit all this time, but I don’t have a national ID card because of a lack of care.
You know… I never thought that something like this could ever happen to me just for not having my ID card. Then I came here to Madrid, to Aluche and I landed in this center - a place with neither head nor tail. It’s the food, the behavior, the sanitary conditions, a bit of everything. It’s like being in jail or perhaps even worse. At least in jail you have a TV or a radio.
From your room you can’t see anything; you don’t see anything, just a piece of the road outside. The view is blocked. The dome blocks the exterior view. When a person first arrives they have the right to make a phone call to their family. We’re allowed to make a phone call to our family.
I sometimes asked new inmates if they were permitted to make their phone call; if the guard had let them do it… because people were asking me for money all the time to make phone calls. The thing is that the guard didn’t inform them of their rights. Then I had to go personally to tell the guard to let them call. I would tell them, ‘this kid has been here for a week, he has to call his family’. This used to happen not only with one inmate, but 15 at a time.”
Still on Screen:
Men versus Women: Men 91%; Women 9%
Main origin countries
Comparison between 2012 and 2013
Mali • Nigeria • Senegal
Main origin countries
Other nationalities: Mali; Nigeria; Senegal
Data from the Detention Center for Migrants of Aluche
Average period of stay in Spain according to the country of origin (in years)
Chad; Gambia; Guinea Bissau; Guinea Conrakry; Mali; Niger; Nigeria; and Senegal
Angola; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea Bissau; Morocco; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; and other countries.
Outcome of detention:
Deportation – Release – Unknown situation
Narration: According to the current law, there is a maximum period of stay of sixty days at a detention center for migrants. If you are not deported by that time, you can never be remanded there again.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Conrado Semedo, From Spain: “The day of my birth I was given a plane ticket to go to Cape Verde. I was taken to Madrid airport. Once I arrived I was led to an office and then they forced me into a straightjacket.
Of course, I asked them why they were doing that to me; I didn’t kill anyone. I was told it was for my own safety. They tied my feet and hands and then, when it was time, they escorted me to the plane. When I got off the transfer car I cried out that I didn’t want to board and I threw myself on the tarmac. The policemen grabbed me; one held me by the neck; another used his knee against my crotch; and a third was trying to suffocate me with the jacket he was wearing; he had it over my face trying to suffocate me. Then the captain of the plane came out and refused to let me fly.”
Still on screen:
Conrado was saved by the captain of the plane from being deported. Conrado’s resistance was passive and so the captain refused to take off, if the officers had to force him to board the plane.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Serafín Giral, Federal Police Union spokesperson: “I worked in Migrant Affairs for a short time. I was there for a year, and sometimes yes I had to… a couple of times I had to deport people. We took them to the plane, passed them to the authorities, and then we came back.
Minimum physical force is applied to ensure secure, safe conditions. If the person becomes aggressive, of course, you have to act firmly, but if not there’s no need. If a person doesn’t want to be deported, he or she won’t be deported. Enforcement is not in the power of the police.
So, deportees take desperate actions. Once, someone stripped naked on the airplane, and the captain feared a scandal so told us all to get off. That was the end of that deportation. What I mean is that it’s logical and human that a person would use all the resources at their disposal to avoid being deported from this so-called paradise.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Conrado Semedo, From Spain: “The second time they tried to deport me it was obvious that the officers were angry because the first time they didn’t succeed. So the second time they were like, how should I call it, using a lot of psychological pressure. They were insulting me, saying racial insults… I mean, they were ‘beating their chests’ to scare me. So when I got to the plane and the captain said that he wouldn’t let me fly with handcuffs, they got even more pissed off and they brought me here… that was after 55 days of being in the country.
So I stayed three extra days and after that they set me free… well… they didn’t really set me free. The thing is that under law you can’t stay for more than 60 days. And I was here for 58 days and it’s hard to find a flight out. So, I had reached the time limit of deportation and that’s why they had to let me go; but now I can’t work or do anything.”
TIME CODE: 40:00_46:55
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Cristina Manzanedo, Lawyer NGO People United: “Apart from the human suffering it provokes and being unfair, it’s very inefficient because the effective rate of repatriation is very low. Out of all the cases applied only half result in deportation. And why does that happen? Because either it is people without documents and it’s impossible to prepare them; or for other reasons it’s not possible to deport that person. An example is with newcomers who come undetected to our coasts, especially if they come by ‘pateras’ boats or through the Spanish cities of Ceuta o Melilla.”
Still on screen: Number of migrants sent to the CIEs
Source: Annual memory 2013 ombudsman; and Annual memory 2013 State attorney
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Santiago Yerga, Lawyer and former immigration technical advisor for the Socialist government: “Sometimes, this situation makes you think that these detentions are ordered knowing that the case will become a deportation that is not possible to be executed.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Cosin, Activist and Human Rights lawyer: “I think it is part of a prosecution and oppression process to make migrants feel unsafe here and force them to leave. It’s also hard to make the various embassies collaborate in the identification of its nationals because when they are deported, the home country has to recognize the nationality of these people, but in many cases they don’t do it.
There are also some consulates, like the Algerian one in the city of Alicante that asks for money to give to the Spanish authorities. In other words, they demand a bribe - and they get it. The bribe is 15 Euros if the person is in good health and 20 Euros for a pregnant woman or someone that is wounded or hospitalized.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Santiago Yerga, Lawyer and former immigration technical advisor for the Socialist government: “Politically it’s not correct to determine that some deportations are not going to be executed. That’s a falsity. Why? Because in the end you are creating an image in the public eye that migrants are not being deported. I think that what should be done with public opinion is some kind of teaching approach to educate them that yes we try to deport them, but sometimes we can’t.”
Narration: Migrants without documents in the country… Humanitarian organizations, like SOS Racism, are trying to stop deportations with specific actions in airports.
Still on screen: Deportation costs
Data as of March, 2013
Source: Government Gazette of the Congress No. D-344, dated October 17, 2013, Page 380.
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Marina Mera, SOS Racism: “We are informing the passengers on the flight to Dakar at 17:50, that there’s going to be an expulsion on their flight; to inform the crew that they can oppose this kind of action. The passengers can take actions, too - they can refuse to fly while there is a… while there is a person being deported on their flight; they can refuse to take a seat and so on. This way it might be stopped.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ione Belarra, SOS Racism: “In order to deport these people, a commercial flight can be used, you know what I mean, a flight of tourists. The flights for macro-deportations are done by Air Europa. And there’s a campaign against it because the company has signed a contract for 12 million Euros. Those flights are very difficult to detect because they are planned in advance and involve the consulates of the home countries; the airline; and the Interior ministry, which is responsible for the payment and arrangement of flights.
On those flights, people are not able to offer any resistance because there are no civilians to witness what goes on, and so the police brutality was intense. Many deportees were beaten and so it was better not to resist because they would deport you by all means.”
Still on screen:
Spain used 148 charters to deport 3.111 migrants.
The Ministry of Interior has been reported for ‘hunting’ migrants to use mass deportation flights.
Official Gazette of the State
Objective: Air transportation services for the transfer of foreign citizens…
Spain used 148 charters to deport 3.111 migrants.
The recent deportations violate our Migration Laws and also the agreement with Morocco.
Deportations on special flights
“When they send us back, they tie us up like a sheep.”
In 201 (This should be a ‘year’) the Interior Ministry deported 3,100 migrants using 148 flights…
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Cosin, Activist and Human Rights lawyer: “I wish there was a world without borders; it’s a utopian idea. Unfortunately, due to all the different resources and people who want to protect the riches at their disposal, divisions and borders are created.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Santiago Yerga, Lawyer and former immigration technical advisor for the Socialist government: “It’s written in law that the State has control of its borders and the people from foreign countries living in their territories. That said, if I’m asked about the current model of the detention centers, clearly I will say I don’t like it. What I think though is that they will remain whether we like it or not.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Serafín Giral, Federal Police Union spokesperson: “As a police officer I wish there were no jails or detention centers for migrants, or CIEs. If a person or NGO comes and tells me that they are against CIEs I will say that as a police officer I also disagree; but I would ask that person to find a solution to the problem because criticizing is easier than actually solving the problem.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Cristina Manzanedo, Lawyer NGO People United: “I think that history will judge us very harshly for restricting the freedom of migrants and especially for applying it in Spain. Even if it’s an exceptional measure, it’s been applied in an arbitrary way because it’s not done as a sole remedy. Around a thousand people are sent to detention centers every month. It can’t be considered an exceptional measure.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ibrahima Balde, From Senegal: “Corruption and the way they rule - It’s said that in Africa there are dictators, but in my opinion, in Europe also there are dictators.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rida El Faqdi, From Morocco: “I just wanted to avoid what is behind, you know.”
SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Chant of protesters: “No Human Being Is Illegal!”
Still on screen:
She is still fighting for custody of her son.
Still there is no final judgment that allows him to remain living in Spain.
He is legally living in Spain.
He hasn’t been able to get a residence permit.
He is still waiting for the judicial resolution; he could be deported at any time.
Europe is exploiting us and killing us at the borders.
Migrants are victims, not murderers.
Spanish people were and are also migrants.