Statewatch article: RefNo# 35278
Spain: European Court of Human Rights demands explanations from Spanish government on "hot returns" in Melilla
Statewatch News Online, August 2015
The European Court of Human Rights has called on the Spanish government to explain itself in the case of two "hot returns" conducted at the border between Spain and Morocco in Melilla. At the end of July, the Court issued a decision demanding a response from the Spanish government to two applicants' claims that their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights were violated.

See:

  • DÉCISION: Requêtes n 8675/15 et 8697/15: N.D. contre l'Espagne et N.T contre l'Espagne (pdf)
  • El tribunal de Estrasburgo pide explicaciones a España por las devoluciones en caliente en Melilla [The Strasbourg court calls for explanations from Spain over two hot returns in Melilla] (El Diario, link)

    PRESS RELEASE: European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights: Automatic expulsions at the Spanish-Moroccan land border under legal scrutiny

    *European Court of Human Rights questions Spain on "push backs" of refugees and migrants*


    *Berlin / Madrid, 31 July 2015* - For the first time an international court will consider the unlawfulness of automatic expulsions - also known as "push backs" or "devoluciones en caliente" - at the Spanish-Moroccan land border. On 30 July 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) published its first decision on a case brought by two sub-Saharan men - from Mali and the Ivory Coast respectively - who were summarily and collectively expelled from Spanish territory on 13 August 2014 as part of a group of over 75 individuals. This was not an isolated case, but the standard practice of Spanish border guards. Now, the ECtHR requests an answer from the Spanish government to the applicants' claim that their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights were violated.

    The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin has been working with the two applicants and their communities for over a year. At the ECtHR the applicants were represented by ECCHR's cooperation attorneys, Gonzalo Boye (Spain) and Carsten Gericke (Germany). "We welcome the Court's decision because illegal push-backs or forced returns at the EU borders like those in Spain represent a flagrant violation of fundamental human rights and refugee laws," said ECCHR's General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck.

    Spain has been heavily criticized by a number of international institutions and organizations for its longstanding practice of push backs and for the recent implementation of a new law which seeks to legalize them. Spanish Interior Minister Fernández Días has continued to assert that push backs are legal and do not breach national or human rights law. The applicants' Spanish lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, added: "Any ruling that push backs are in violation of the applicants' rights under the European Convention on Human Rights would imply that Spain's new law on collective expulsions itself is incompatible with the Convention and should be amended."

    The ECtHR's decision (pdf) in N.D. and N.T. v. Spain (8675/15 and 8697/15) is a first step and the Court's questions to the Spanish government go to the heart of the subject, namely the prohibition, under the European Convention, of collective expulsions without individual process. Now Spain is requested to provide information on the procedures and identification measures taken at the time of the applicants' expulsion.

    ****

    COMUNICADO DE PRENSA: Expulsiones automáticas a la valla de Melilla bajo escrutinio judicial

    El Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos solicita explicaciones sobre las "devoluciones en caliente" de parte del gobierno español


    *Madrid / Berlín, 31 de julio 2015* - Por primera vez un tribunal internacional examina la ilegalidad de las expulsiones automáticas - también conocidas como "devoluciones en caliente" - en la frontera terrestre española-marroquí. El 30 de julio publicó el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos (TEDH) su primera decisión en el caso de dos hombres subsaharianos de Mali y de la Costa de Marfil que fueron sumaria y colectivamente expulsados del territorio español el 13 de agosto de 2014 con otros 75 individuos. No es un caso aislado, sino parte de una práctica sistemática de la guardia civil en las vallas de Ceuta y Melilla. Ahora el TEDH pide del gobierno español contestar a los demandantes que sus derechos bajo el Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos fueron violados.

    La ONG alemana /European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights/(ECCHR) esta en contacto con los dos demandantes y sus comunidades desde más de un año. Los demandantes están representados por el abogado español Gonzalo Boye y su colega alemán Carsten Gericke. "/Damos la bienvenida a la decisión del Tribunal, porque rechazos forzados en las fronteras de la UE como las "devoluciones en caliente" en España son una violación flagrante de los derechos humanos fundamentales y de las leyes de refugiados/", dijo el Secretario General del ECCHR, Wolfgang Kaleck.

    Instituciones internacionales - como el Consejo Europeo y Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados (ACNUR) - y ONGs han emitido fuertes críticas sobre la práctica española de "devoluciones en caliente" y la recién reforma que pretende cubrir y legalizarlas. Sin embargo, el Ministro del Interior, Fernández Díaz, continúa afirmando que las "devoluciones en caliente" son legales y no violan la ley de extranjería española o los derechos humanos. El abogado español del demandante, Gonzalo Boye, añadió: "/Cualquier decisión del TEDH que las "devoluciones en caliente" son una violación de los derechos de los demandantes bajo el Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos implicará que las nuevas previsiones de la Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana sobre los "rechazos en frontera" en las vallas de Ceuta y Melilla serán incompatibles con el Convenio Europeo y deberían ser modificadas/".

    La decisión del TEDH (aquí, pdf) en N.D. y N.T. contra España (8675/15 y 8697/15) es una primera etapa y las preguntas del Tribunal directamente tratan de la cuestión principal de prohibición bajo el Convenio Europeo de expulsiones colectivas sin proceso individual. Ahora el gobierno español deberá de proporcionar información sobre los trámites y medidas de identificación seguidos durante la expulsión de los dos demandantes el 13 de agosto 2014.

    *Contact ECCHR
    Contact Gonzalo Boye*

    Phone: + 49 (0)30 - 400 485 90
    Phone: + 34 91 401 4330

    E-Mail: info [at] ECCHR.eu
    E-Mail: g.boye [at] be-abogados.com

    European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights e.V. (ECCHR)
    Zossener Str. 55-58, Aufgang D
    D-10961 BERLIN

    Phone: + 49(0)30 - 40 04 85 90
    Fax: + 49 (0)30 - 40 04 85 92

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