Barcelona seeks migrant detention centre closure

'Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros' (Centre for Internment of Foreigners) located in Barcelona. Photo: Europa Press
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• City official cites ‘infrahuman’ conditions for immigrants, asylum seekers
• Interior Ministry given 20 days to transfer detainees or face legal action

The city of Barcelona has put Spain’s Interior Ministry on notice that it will issue an order for the closure of the federal government’s local Centre for Internment of Foreigners (CIE, ‘Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros’) over persistent complaints that the centre does not provide minimum health and safety conditions for the hundreds of migrants detained there.

Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor for Citizens’ Rights, Jaume Asens, said the decision has been made because the Interior Ministry has refused to adequately respond to persistent complaints by city officials over what Asens called “infrahuman” conditions at the centre. He said the federal government would be given 20 days to move detained migrants out of the CIE or face legal action by the city.

The announcement came on the heels of a hunger strike by 70 internees in the Barcelona CIE, staged to protest health and living conditions there. The hunger strike followed by just one week a riot over poor health and safety conditions at Madrid’s Aluche CIE, where an estimated 60 detainees took over a wing of the facility and displayed banners reading “L:iberty” and “Dignity” from the prison’s rooftop during an overnight standoff with police.

Spain has been repeatedly warned by both the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and the European Commission (EC) over substandard conditions and failure to comply with international migration and asylum protocols at its CIEs in the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, while human rights activists and Spanish judges complain that the centres nationwide do not meet basic human rights standards.

In addition to the CIEs at Ceuta and Melilla, there are seven mainland centres in operation across Spain, where nearly 7,000 migrants and asylum seekers were detained last year until their cases could be decided. More than 2,800 of those held in the CIEs last year had their applications to remain in Spain denied and were deported to their countries of origin, according to Interior Ministry figures.

► Read More in Spanish at Europa Press, El Mundo and 20minutos …

► Read More in English at El País and TheLocal.es…

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