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24 April 2020 – Spain

Spain’s Defensor del Pueblo (Ombudsman) released a statement on 17 April that expressed concern about the overpopulation at detention centres in Ceuta and Melilla (called “Centros de estancia temporal para inmigrantes”). The Ombudsman highlighted the plight of children at these facilities, as reports indicate that a large number of them are held there.

The Ombudsman office also reported that it is monitoring the situation in the country’s prisons to ensure that adequate measures are being implemented to protect the health of prisoners and staff. As of 11 April 2020, 58 prisoners had tested positive for Covid-19. However, prison staff have reported that figures may be much higher given the lack of testing.

The Ministry of the Interior released responses to FAQ’s as regards asylum applications. At the moment, it is not possible to apply for asylum given that applications have to be made in person and facilities are currently closed. However, the Ministry has stated that the principle of non-refoulement remains guaranteed protection. In addition, temporary documentation held by asylum seekers, expiring during the state of emergency, is automatically extended until the end of the latter.

Jesuit Refugee Service-Spain (JRS) reported that by the end of March 2020, the country’s CIEs were at 10 percent of their total capacity..On 9 April 2020, only 3 detainees remained at the Algeciras CIE. These detainees were not released due to their criminal records and their detention was extended until mid-May.

JRS also reported that between 15 March – 15 April, 829 people entered Spain irregularly, by land and by sea. 551 arrived at the Canary Islands, 194 to the Peninsula and the Balearic Islands, 83 arrived at Melilla and 1 to Ceuta.