SPAIN has defended its decision to hold nearly 500 migrants who arrived in the country by boat in prison.
According to reports, almost a thousand migrants have arrived on several boats into the South of Spain since Thursday.
Half of whom were intercepted in the south-eastern region of Murcia and after arriving in the south of Spain, the “majority” of those who arrived in Murcia were moved to the unused Archidona prison outside Malaga due to a reported lack of space at immigration detention centres.
But following backlash and criticism from rights groups, alongside reportedly more than 20 complaints from NGO’s, Interior Minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, has defended the measures taken.
He told radio Onda Cero: “We feel it is better that the migrants be held in a centre with the latest technology, with sanitary facilities, showers, heating, beds, sports areas than to put them in camps like in other countries.”
According to the reports, the unused Archidona facilities have 1,008 rooms, a dining room, sports areas among a number of other recreational spaces as well as workshops, teaching classrooms, a gym with showers and changing rooms and a hairdresser with a barber shop.
But the decision to move the migrants to the prison was met with instant backlash from non-profit organisation Malaga Acoge President, Arantxa Triguero.
He told Spanish media: “We are radically opposed to these people being transferred to a prison and we believe that this is violating their fundamental right.”
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 17,687 migrants have reached Spain by boat between January 1 and November 15 this year, compared to 5,445 during the same period in 2016.
Spain is now reportedly the third highest entry point into Europe, behind Italy and Greece as it has become increasingly more popular for thousands of migrants seeking entry to Europe while avoiding passing through Libya.