In 1985 the Spanish government approved an immigration law including detention centres (CIES in Spanish) for immigrants who do not have papers in order, but are not to be imprisoned. According to this law, immigrants should spend a maximum of 40 days in those detention centres until they are expelled from Spain.
In 1995, with the implementation of the Schengen Agreement, many detention centres were built around Europe. In Spain, even if these centres are managed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, there is no official information about the exact number of centres and the exact number of people in detention. According to the campaign Stop CIES, conducted by the NGO “SOS Racisme” and the Barcelona Youth Council, there are 280 detention centres in Europe, including 11 in Spain. Now-a-days, with the new detention law, immigrants can spend there 60 days.
Several organisations denounced that immigrants are ill-treated in these centres, to the point that in the detention centre of Barcelona there have been four casualties so far. The Spanish Minister of Home Affairs argues that they were all natural deaths, except for a suicide, but there is no way to check it out. There is no control on police actions in these centres, there are no annual reports, no lists of immigrants in detention, no financial reports and no public information made available. In short, it is like a concentration camp for people who have committed no crime (not having your papers in order is not a crime but just an administrative offence), and these people are denied most of their rights.
At the beginning of 2012, several campaigns against these shameful centres were reported in the mass media. The Catalan ombudsman decided to enter the detention centre in Barcelona with some journalists to make an inspection, but they were not allowed in. Some days later, the Spanish Minister of Home Affairs allowed some journalists to enter this centre in an attempt to improve the public opinion about CIES. As a result, from now on, detention centres will be named CECE in Spain (Centres for the Controlled Stay of Foreigners), which allegedly sounds better. But they are still the same: detention centres without any transparent information.
As citizens, we get almost no information about the existence of detention centres or what happens there, but we are an accessory nonetheless. Detention centres are like concentration camps, and they may be located next door.
- Organic Law 7/1985 on Rights and Liberties of the Foreigners in Spain: http://www.boe.es/buscar/doc.php?id=BOE-A-1985-12767
- The Schengen Agreement: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Agreement
- Information of the Spanish Ministry of Home Affairs about detention centres: http://www.interior.gob.es/extranjeria-28/regimen-general-189/centro-de-internamiento-de-extranjeros-208?locale=es
- Campaign against detention centres: http://ciesno.wordpress.com/about/
- A young man dies in the detention centre of Barcelona: http://elpais.com/elpais/2012/01/06/inenglish/1325830851_850210.html
- Not having your papers in order is not a crime but an administrative offence: http://www.papelesespana.com/documentacion/sin-papeles.html
- Journalist entering the detention centre in Barcelona: http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2012/04/26/barcelona/1335425279.html
- Detention centres are named differently: http://www.abc.es/20120612/espana/abci-cies-anteproyecto-novedades-201206112037.html