Essa Mbye Faal, a Gambian-born international lawyer who was an independent candidate in the last presidential election, has condemned the inhumane treatment of African migrants at the Moroccan-Spanish border at Melila.
Videos and shocking images of the inhumane treatment of some African migrants are making rounds on social media recently. Reports have it that some Gambians have also died in the incident while trying to enter the Spanish territory.
Mr. Faal condemned the act and called for an investigation into the matter.
Below is his full statement.
Fellow Gambians, just like many of you I have seen the video showing the attempts by African migrants to breach the metal fence at Melila to enter Spanish territory from Morocco. I am shocked and angry at the brutality, inhumane and degrading treatment the Moroccan security personnel meted out on our African brothers. Recent reports indicate that scores or even up to 100 migrants were savagely beaten to death and hundreds more were injured. This by itself constitutes a massive crime and an egregious human rights violation. To add insult to injury, the migrants many of whom were badly injured were dumped onto each other like sardines. No human being deserves such cruel maltreatment.
Migrants/refugees are entitled to protection, humane and dignified treatment no matter who they are or where they come from. The action of the Moroccan authorities is a breach of its international obligations and deserves international condemnation as it is contrary to international law, human rights law and all norms of decency and civilized behaviour.
I did not make a statement when I saw the shocking video for I thought that this is so significant that our government would do something about it whether or not there was a Gambian victim. Unfortunately, AFRICAN governments remained mute and carried on with business as usual as if nothing untoward had happened. What a tragedy and betrayal of the AFRICAN youths by African governments especially those from sub-Saharan Africa. Now the AU is calling for an investigation.
Just a few days ago I was in Italy where I met many migrants from The Gambia. I visited the camps where they are hosted and discussed with them and camp managers about the welfare of the migrants. I was also invited to join the celebrations of World Refugee Day in Messina on 20th June where I was also honoured to address refugees and local authorities. I have heard horror stories about the perilous journeys of the migrants in their efforts to reach greener pastures all in the effort to better their lives or seek safety from persecution in the case of refugees. I stand shoulder to shoulder with them for their courage, perseverance and resilience. But we must ask the question why should we allow our countries to be so dreadful that our young and able-bodied people would rather die in these perilous journeys to escape to “greener pastures” or safety rather than remain at home. The simple answer is lack of opportunities or protection. We must change!
I have always said that The Gambia’s biggest resources are the Gambians in the diaspora and its youthful population. These two must be harnessed for the advancement and development of the country and its people. This requires providing skills training and creating greater opportunities for the youths so that they would be confident of staying and making it at home and also creating an environment for diaspora Gambians to shift from subsistence remittances to investment remittances in The Gambia. Our development aspirations will remain unattainable if we continue to downplay or overlook these issues.
Aluta continua-The struggle continues.
Essa Mbye Faal