The Ombudsman questions the migration policy of the State and ugly his management in the humanitarian crisis in the Canary Islands. Francisco Fernández Marugán warns that the Islands cannot become a place in which rights such as free movement are violated and questions the capacity of the Archipelago’s reception system, because he considers that the current resources do not have the adequate conditions for give a dignified welcome. These warnings have been collected in the report Migration in the Canary Islands, which he delivered to the Congress of Deputies yesterday. The document, prepared after his visit to the Islands in mid-December, also shows Fernández Marugán’s concern about the slowness of the transfers of irregular migrants from the Islands to the peninsula and calls for greater coordination between administrations.
- International protection. Access to the asylum procedure, the report points out, is one of the greatest challenges facing the Spanish and European systems and argues that coordination must be improved to provide a “coherent response” to the challenges posed by its management. Of the 23,023 Africans who arrived on the Canary Islands in 2020, according to data from the Asylum and Refugee Office, only 295 – 32 from Senegal, 74 from Morocco and 189 from Mali – applied for international protection. These data lead the Ombudsman to request an “urgent review” of the role of the National Police and the public defenders who, he points out, do not manage to formalize all the requests or do not follow up on them.
- Coordination. The Ombudsman considers it necessary to create a system made up of the General State Administration, the autonomous communities and the municipalities, because the current dispersed model “causes deficiencies in the management” of migration. In addition, it considers it “essential” to address the migratory phenomenon from “a perspective of solidarity among all the autonomous communities” and urges the central government to reach a stable agreement with the autonomies to promote inter-territorial collaboration.
- Transfers and free movement. Fernández Marugán regrets the slowness of migrant transfers from the Canary Islands to the peninsula, a situation he has detected throughout 2020. The report highlights that restrictions on the free movement of asylum seekers in the Islands are the subject of recurring complaints before the Ombudsman, despite the fact that applicants for international protection have the right to freedom of movement throughout the national territory. For this reason, he emphasizes that the Canary Islands cannot become a “place of deprivation of rights”.
- Reception centers. The report points out that the “urgent need” to enable new custody areas for foreign detainees has led to the denomination of temporary care centers for foreigners (CATE) as “places that do not meet the minimum conditions.” The Ombudsman recommends to the State the creation of permanent centers that avoid “having to improvise them on the fly” and affirms that “the Canary Islands Plan seems to constitute a good initiative”.
- Unaccompanied minors. Fernández Marugán is committed to streamlining procedures such as the identification of the international protection needs of unaccompanied minors, the detection of potential victims of trafficking, the protocol for determining the age, the management of documentation for their legal residence and integration socio-labor, once they reach their majority.
- Legal assistance and interpreters. The thousands of people who were crowded together for months at the Arguineguín dock “were deprived of legal assistance with the most minimal guarantees,” according to the Ombudsman. This institution considers that lawyers are responsible for ensuring the provision of legal assistance to which migrants are entitled, under conditions that allow them to defend the rights of these citizens. Fernández Marugán advises that the police staff that assist migrants have experience in data collection; that lawyers are specialized in immigration matters; and that interpreters master the languages most common among African migrants.
- Missing on the route. UNHCR estimates that at least 480 people lost their lives trying to reach the islands in 2020. The Ombudsman highlights in his report that the absence of a passenger registry and the limited number of registered complaints make it difficult to identify and count those who lose. life in his attempt to reach Europe. For this reason, it is committed to the creation of a system for the identification of people who have disappeared along the way and a family care office.
- Countries of origin. In his report, the Ombudsman suggests that the central government “change the approach” with which it deals with migratory flows from Morocco, so that it “adapts to the social reality of Moroccan migration in Spain”. Of the 23,023 migrants who arrived irregularly in the Islands, 11,998 -52% – are of Moroccan nationality. In addition, he recalls that more than 700,000 Moroccan citizens currently reside legally in the country and underlines that “Morocco is the third country in the world where the most Spanish visas are processed and granted.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.