A Spanish court has ruled that 14 underage migrants from Morocco were deported from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta illegally and have the right to return to Spain.
In two rulings last week a judge from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta ordered the return of several migrant minors from Morocco back to Spanish territory.
Spanish media reported on Thursday (February 17) that a total of 14 young Moroccans were affected by the decisions. They had arrived in Ceuta in May 2021 but were later deported to Morocco.
Authorities didn't follow rules in asylum process
The judge said that the Spanish authorities had failed to follow proper legal procedures prior to the deportation. "It is not that any of the steps in the procedure have been omitted, it is that they have all been omitted," the judge wrote, according to reports from Spanish newspaper El Pais and radio station Cadena SER. Authorities reportedly failed to carry out asylum hearings and did not file proper reports.
The rulings came in response to appeals filed against the deportations by childrens' rights organization Fundación Raíces and other NGOs.
Spanish authorities can appeal against both rulings and have 15 days to do so, Cadena SER reported after the court's decision.
Government officials told El Pais that the return of the migrants might be difficult to carry out because of they might have trouble locating the minors.
The stories of the 14 young migrants
The 14 youths had arrived in Ceuta in mid-May, when thousands of migrants crossed the border to Ceuta as Morocco briefly suspended border checks during a period of high diplomatic tension between the Spanish and Moroccan government.
While most adult migrants were deported almost immediately or voluntarily returned to Morocco, hundreds of minors were put into reception facilities.
However, in mid-August Spanish authorities deported a total of 55 underage migrants, including the 14 minors affected by the court rulings.
Spanish authorities then suspended the deportations of minors to improve their procedures, following a previous decision by the same Ceuta court to halt the returns of several underage migrants.