European court rules Spain violated rights convention by expelling Sahrawis

Marker shows the Canary Islands

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Spain violated an international rights treaty by trying to expel in 2012 a group of Sahrawi* refugees who were seeking asylum after they illegally landed in the Canary Islands.

In a decision made public Tuesday, the justices in Strasbourg said that the Spanish High Court, along with the Interior Ministry, violated the European Human Rights Convention by refusing to study asylum requests filed by 30 Sahrawis, who claimed they were being persecuted by Moroccan authorities.

“The judges have handed down this ruling given the nonexistence within our legislation of an automatic process that stops the return of this kind of complainant until a decision on their case is definitive,” said Paloma Favieres, a lawyer for the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (Crear), which filed the complaint with the European court against the Spanish government…

*From Wikipedia: The Sahrawi people are the people living in the western part of African Sahara desert which includes Western Sahara (claimed by the Polisario and mostly controlled by Morocco), other parts of southern Morocco not claimed by the Polisario, most of Mauritania, and the extreme southwest of Algeria.

As with most Saharan peoples living in the Great African Desert, the Sahrawi culture is mixed. It shows mainly Berber-Tuareg characteristics, like the privileged position of women—identical to the neighboring Berber-speaking Tuaregs—and some additional Bedouin Arab and black African characteristics. Sahrawis are composed of many tribes and are largely speakers of the Hassaniya dialect of Arabic, and some of them still speak Berber in both of Morocco’s disputed and non-disputed territories.  They are all Sunni Muslims.