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BCN migrant detention centre criticized for not allowing visits again

Migra Studium NGO suspects that facility ran by Spanish Policía Nacional wants to hide what’s happening in Zona Franca site


07 June 2021 05:10 PM


ACN | Barcelona

The Migra Studium group, part of Spain’s Jesuit Migrant Service NGO, has criticized that the migrant detention centre (known as ‘CIE’ in both Catalan and Spanish) in Barcelona is the only such centre that has not allowed visits since the pandemic

The group is one of the few that can normally visit the facility and report on its conditions, as it did in 2019 when it denounced the presence of minors, the lack of interpreters, and inadequate medical care

Lawyer José Javier Ordoñez views the lack of visits as a way to "prevent other eyes from looking and other ears from hearing what is happening" at the centre and added that the pandemic is an excuse that is being taken advantage of.

In its latest report, Migra Studium also reported that the Zona Franca site had detained 445 people in 2020, representing 20.01% of the total in Spain. Of the 84 people who were isolated in preventive rooms in all of Spain, 72 were in the CIE of Zona Franca, mostly for health reasons. 

Their latest report, covering 2020, is titled ‘Legal reason and political unreason’ (‘Razón jurídica y sinrazón política’).

It details that a total of 2,224 people were interned in Spain as a whole and the CIE in Madrid hosted the most (465), ahead of Barcelona. 

The figures reveal the downward trend in the number of people interned in the CIE. However, the Jesuit Migrant Service underlines that the aim is to completely close these centres, and point out that when they were closed due to the pandemic shows that a permanent closure is possible.

The Barcelona CIE was closed for 200 days last year and the report points out that this was due to legal reasoning, that there was no sense in keeping the centres open if deportations could not happen. The NGO regrets that this was not applied to successive pandemic waves and the centre was reopened in October.


  • The Barcelona Migrant Detention Centre (CIE) in the Zona Franca area of the city, photographed in 2016 (by Pol Solà)

  • The Barcelona Migrant Detention Centre (CIE) in the Zona Franca area of the city, photographed in 2016 (by Pol Solà)