SJM CIE 2018 Report: ‘Origin Discrimination’

In its new report, the SJM notes the origin discrimination suffered by the people interned in the CIE in 2018

  • Morocco and Algeria account for two thirds of the nationalities of people interned in 2018; an origin discrimination from arrival to internment because their repatriation is more feasible.
  • There is an alarming increase in the number of minors in the CIE: 89 were identified in 2018, up from 49 in 2017.
  • CIEs continue to be spaces of suffering, where situations of vulnerability are accentuated and basic rights are violated (language interpretation, legal and health assistance, access to asylum requests, degrading and humiliating treatment…).

The Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM) has presented the 2018 Annual Report about Centers for Internment of Foreigners (CIE) at an event held at the headquarters of the Ombudsman of Madrid. The report is titled ‘Origin Discrimination’, referring to the differential treatment given to people of Maghrebi origin, who upon their arrival in the country go to the police station just to end up in a CIE. More than two thirds (68%) of all people interned in 2018 were from one of these two nationalities: Moroccan or Algerian. On the contrary, since August, it has been observed that people of sub-Saharan or Asian origin have not been interned in CIEs, since upon their arrival they go to the Foreigner Temporary Shelters (CATE) and from there to resources of humanitarian reception until it is impossible to return to their country of origin. In this phase of initial detention of 72 hours, there are already indications of discriminatory treatment towards people of Maghrebi origin.

In 2018, a total of 7,855 people were interned, which represents a decrease of 11% since the previous year. Of them, 98% were men. More than 78% were interned due to the opening of proceedings to return them for entering the country illegally. However, this reason applied to only 40% of the 179 women who were interned.

A total of 89 minors were interned in the CIE in 2018, according to the Ministry of the Interior. This figure is notably higher than in 2017, when there were 48 minors inside. In addition, the number of applications for international protection from CIEs increased in 2018 to a total of 1,776, of which 30.6% were admitted for processing. The duration of stay in the eight CIEs of the territory was slightly reduced to an average of 26.08 days.

The total number of forced repatriations (sum of expulsions and returns) increased by 22%, to 11,384; that is, more than 31 people were deported per day in 2018. This increase in the amount of return processes is considerable (33% more than in 2017). In addition, the percentage of expulsion and return from the CIE increased to 58%.

In 2018, teams of people from the entities of the SJM network visited a total of 807 people in five centers: Aluche (Madrid), Zona Franca (Barcelona), Zapadores (Valencia), Isla de las Palomas (Tarifa) and La Piñera (Algeciras). These visits continue to assess situations of vulnerability and possible violations of rights: structural deficiencies in most centers; lack of detection of children of age and of attention to people with physical and mental illnesses; gaps in legal assistance and language interpretation; limitations in the use of communication; degrading and humiliating treatment; and difficulties and obstacles in access to asylum requests. The work of the NGOs that visit the CIE, together with the critical observation of the control courts and the Ombudsman, point to the complaint for the improvement of living conditions and guarantee of rights in the centers.

The SJM continues to identify serious deficiencies in the management of situations of crisis within some CIEs, as well as serious episodes of violence. Given this situation, the dialogue that is articulated around the work of reports and defense from the entities that visit the detention centers, together with institutions such as the Ombudsman, the control judges and other instances of the administration, continues to be key to defending the rights of migrants.

In short, the abusive use of internment, as a tool in the fight against illegal immigration at the southern border, is still not having a deterrent effect, in any case generating a lot of suffering. This work of denunciation points to a fundamental demand: the end of internment and deprivation of liberty, the closure of the CIEs and the need to explore more humane alternatives that facilitate processes of social integration.



This English translation has been possible thanks to the PerMondo project: Free translation of website and documents for non-profit organisations. A project managed by Mondo Agit. Translator: Robert Fox. Proofreader: Emily Wallace