Spanish NGOs accuse Spain of illegal migrant push-back

 Spanish human rights groups called Saturday for an investigation into potential human rights violations by Spanish authorities after the alleged expulsion of 42 migrants to Morocco without due process

Madrid -- Spanish human rights groups called Saturday for an investigation into potentialhuman rights violations by Spanish authorities after thealleged expulsion of 42 migrants to Morocco without due process.

“Border control and the containment of migratory flows cannot under any circumstance violate current laws,” the statement said.

Spain’s government delegation in Melilla, one of the country's North African enclaves, confirmed to The Associated Press that around 40 migrants returned to Morocco on Friday. However, it said in a statement that the migrants were rescued by Moroccan authorities at sea and not on Spanish territory.

Helena Maleno of the NGO Walking Borders dismissed the government’s version of events. She made public GPS locations and photographs shared by the migrants with her organization that she said proved they were on land. In one of the photos people are seen sitting on rocks wrapped in a giant plastic bag in an attempt to shield themselves from the wind. In another a child wearing an orange vest is also seen on rocks in the arms of an adult.

“It wasn’t just a push-back at the entrance, these people were waiting for hours in Spanish territory without any assistance,” Maleno told the AP.

It is not the first time Spain is accused of violating the so-called principle of “non-refoulement." In 2017 it was condemned by the European Court of Justice after sending two African men back to Morocco without due process.

According to Walking Borders, which has maintained contact with the migrants after their return to Morocco, at least two people were taken to hospital upon their arrival.