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From the migrant boat to prison

It is hard to believe that the government was unable to find a more dignified provisional solution for around 500 immigrants than sending them to Archidona prison

Main entrance to the prison in Archidona.
Main entrance to the prison in Archidona. EL PAÍS

Criticism is raining down on the Interior Ministry – and justly so – over its decision to send nearly 500 undocumented migrants to the future penitentiary at Archidona (Málaga). The extraordinary wave of boat arrivals in Murcia over the weekend has, once again, collapsed Spain’s deficient facilities for the holding and deporting of migrants who are considered to be here illegally. The law specifically prohibits holding them inside prisons, and the solution adopted by the Interior Ministry is to be rejected on principle, even if judges gave it the go-ahead.

The Interior Ministry claims that the Archidona center is not yet a prison

The transfer of migrants to a prison that has yet to be inaugurated crudely illustrates a situation in need of a definitive solution that will afford a more dignified stay to the thousands of people who risk their lives on makeshift boats, while they await either deportation or a new life in this country.

The future prison at Archidona has a thousand individual cells, cafeterias, a sick bay and lounges – conditions that are not always available at some of the seven official migrant holding centers in Spain. These centers, known as CIEs, are true prisons, as denounced by this newspaper and by several non-profit groups and political parties. Although improvements have been made, they are still in urgent need of reform.

The law specifically prohibits holding migrants inside prisons

The Interior Ministry claims that the Archidona center is not yet a prison, and says the solution is temporary. But it is hard to believe that the government has been unable to find a better provisional solution for these migrants, considering that the number of inmates at the CIEs are currently much lower than those registered a decade ago.

English version by Susana Urra.

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