Migrants held in high-security prison wing ‘attempt mass suicide protest’

Twenty of the 21 young men currently held in Linhó jail after entering the country illegally by boat from Morocco have staged a form of ‘suicide’ protest.

None of the suicide attempts actually worked. They appear to have been more an indication of the men’s outrage at being held in preventive custody.

As has been explained in earlier texts (click here), the men were remanded to Linhó jail near Sintra due to the current overcrowding in SEF detention centres throughout the country.

No less than 69 young male migrants have made the crossing from Morocco to the Algarve in recent months, and those that have not ‘escaped’ are now all awaiting judicial decisions.

It seems more than likely the men will be ‘expelled’ from Portugal. They do not satisfy any criteria for asylum, and they cannot be considered ‘refugees’.

The Resident has been receiving a number of emails in French – ostensibly from one of the family members of one of the most recent arrivals – also demanding to know why prison has been decreed: the inference being that the men’s ‘human rights’ are being railroaded.

Expresso meantime says Portuguese diplomatic sources are in touch with Moroccan counterparts to try and come up with a ‘plan’ or ‘programme’ which would make immigration into this country ‘legal’ for work purposes.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã says the young men have now had all ‘objects that could allow further suicide bids’ removed from their cells.

The paper adds they are demanding to speak with the Moroccan ambassador to Portugal. And, of course, they are demanding to be freed.

The alleged suicide ‘pact’, as CM has called it, involved the young men making improvised ropes from their bedsheets and trying to hang themselves from a fixed point in their cells.

Stories over the weekend concentrated on the fact that the reason for this ‘new route’ of Moroccans into Europe is that Portugal’s coastal radar is far inferior in terms of accuracy than Spain’s, which runs very efficiently right along the Spanish coast as far almost as Tavira in Portugal.

Thus migrants have been aiming for destinations west of Tavira, in the knowledge that their little boats are unlikely to elicit attention.

In most cases, the ‘alert’ of these boats’ arrivals into Portugal has been sounded by locals.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com