Protests increase over Archidona immigrant detention centre after apparent suicide

The brother of the dead man (3rd from left) with supporters.
The brother of the dead man (3rd from left) with supporters. / F.T.
  • A 36-year-old Algerian man was found hanged and opposition politicians, charities and human rights groups have called for deportations to be halted during the inquiry

Condemnation of the use of the future Archidona prison complex, in inland Malaga province, as a detention centre for illegal immigrants has increased this week. It follows the death of one of the detainees held there, a 36-year-old man from Algeria who was found hanged on the morning of Friday, December 30th. The preliminary results of the autopsy suggested it was a suicide.

The dead man was one of an estimated 300 Algerians who were inside awaiting processing of deportation orders. Some opposition politicians, civil rights groups and charities have called for no more immigrants held there to be removed while an investigation into the death continues.

The renewed criticism of the Archidona centre comes on top of ongoing outrage at the temporary use of the new prison facility. In November 570 illegal Algerian immigrants, mostly from boats found off the coast, were brought there as other official detention centres were full, although gradually many have been returned to Algeria. Sources say that there has been a rise in unrest within the jail building as deportations increased.

National leader of the Izquierda Unida party, Alberto Garzón said that “the death should weigh on the consciences of those running a policy violating human rights”.

Appearing alongside campaigners against the Archidona centre, the brother of the dead man said that he used to speak with him daily and that he never talked about suicide.

Following the discovery of the man's body, there were increased protests from campaigners at the gates of the centre as well as other points in the area including Plaza de la Merced in the centre of Malaga.

Attempt to stop buses

Objectors have argued that the deportations should be stopped while the death is investigated. This week the Junta de Andalucía regional government and Malaga Acoge, a charity supporting immigrants, asked the court in Archidona to stop two buses leaving the centre taking immigrants away to Algeria, for fear of the investigation being harmed if witnesses left. Family members of the dead man and campaigners tried to stop the buses leaving on Monday, forcing police on duty at the gates to intervene.

Spain's official immigrant centres have no places available, forcing the use of Archidona jail, according to central government. Minister of the Interior, Juan Ignacio Zoido has explained the move by saying that “the conditions in Archidona are the same [ as normal detention centres]”, adding that the decision to house immigrants there was taken to avoid putting them “into camps like you see in other countries”.