30 April 2014

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that Spain violated the right to an effective remedy of 30 asylum seekers of Sahrawi origin who faced removal to Morocco before a thorough examination of their asylum application. It was only the ECtHR’s intervention that halted their deportation.

After the Spanish authorities rejected their asylum applications and ordered their deportation, the 30 applicants sought judicial review of this decision and a suspension of their removal orders pending this review. The Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s High Court, initially ordered a temporary halt to the deportations, but very shortly afterwards – in 13 cases on the following day – the High Court rejected all their requests for suspension.

The ECtHR was not satisfied that this short consideration by the High Court had given the applicants an opportunity to provide any further explanation of the risks they faced on return to Morocco. The applicants were therefore not given sufficient protection against arbitrary removal to their country of origin, as required by the right to an effective remedy under Article 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The 30 asylum seekers had reached Spain’s Canary Islands on makeshift boats between January 2011 and August 2012, having fled their camp in the Western Sahara after it was forcibly dismantled by Moroccan police.

With their asylum proceedings still pending before Spanish Supreme Court, the ECtHR ordered that the asylum seekers be allowed to remain in Spain until a final decision on their claims for protection.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 30 April 2014
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