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European Court of Human Rights acquits Spain over expulsion of two migrants without processing

Court finds that Spain did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights when expelling men from the enclave of Melilla to Morocco


13 February 2020 07:57 PM


ACN | Strasbourg

The European Court of Human Rights has found that Spain did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights when it expelled two men from the Spanish enclave of Melilla to Morocco.

The Strasbourg Court had convicted the Spanish state in October 2017 but the Spanish government, at the time led by Mariano Rajoy and the People’s Party, appealed.  

On Thursday it was announced that the appeal was successful, with the court ruling that the fundamental rights of two citizens from Mali and the Ivory Coast were not violated by the Spanish police returning them to Morocco without first identifying them, after they had jumped the Melilla fence.

"They did not use the existing legal procedures to gain lawful access to Spanish territory," the ruling declared.

However, the ECHR emphasized that this judgment "does not challenge the broad international consensus" that states must adhere to the principle of "non-return". This principle of international law guarantees that no state can return anyone to their country of origin when there is ample reason to believe that their life may be in danger.

Amnesty International calls judgement a blow

Amnesty International called the ECHR judgment a blow to refugee and migrant rights.

“Today’s judgement is very disappointing. These two men were marched back to Morocco as soon as they entered Spain, with no chance to explain their circumstances, no chance to request asylum, and no chance to appeal their expulsion.” said Anna Shea in a statement.

The researcher on refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International added, “That the court has today decided that Spain was within its rights to do this, because the men entered the country irregularly, is truly a blow for refugees and migrant rights. People must have access to asylum procedures and to appeal any decision, regardless of how they entered the country they wish to seek sanctuary in.”



  • European Court of Human Rights

  • European Court of Human Rights