Spain: Supreme Court reiterates, for the third time, the right of asylum applicants to move freely throughout Spain

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

On 10 February 2021, the Chamber of Contentious-Administrative Proceedings of the Supreme Court of Spain published its judgment, reiterating the right of asylum applicants to move freely throughout Spain.
The case concerns annulment proceedings brought against the decision of the High Court of Madrid which upheld the appeal against the decision to prevent the appellants’ travel to the Spanish mainland from Melilla, after their applications for international protection had been lodged on the grounds that their personal identification documents were not valid for travel to the mainland.
In assessing the validity of the appeal, the Court first pointed out that the issue had already been the subject of rulings by the same court in two previous similar judgments (ECLI:ES:TS:2020:2662 & ECLI:ES:TS:2020: 2497) which already declared that the rules governing the procedure for granting international protection could not be an impediment to the appellants’ fundamental right to move around the national territory and to freely choose their residence during the international protection procedure. The caselaw highlighted the established obligation on asylum applicants to inform Spanish authorities about any changes of address during the procedure. The Court considered that if an asylum applicant assumes an obligation to disclose a change of address, it can only be because he or she has the right to change his or her residence. It further emphasised that the legislation should be interpreted in accordance with the effectiveness of fundamental rights, noting that fundamental rights may indeed be restricted, provided that the restriction is necessary to achieve an intended legitimate aim and is proportionate to achieving it. In that regard, the Court felt neither were properly expressed to justify a limitation of the fundamental right to move.
The Court concluded that all foreign nationals who have applied for international protection or asylum in Ceuta and Melilla have the right to freedom of movement and to establish their residence in any other city in Spanish territory, without this right being limited due to their status as an applicant for international protection and always with the obligation of the applicant to inform of a change of address. The appeal was dismissed.
Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU Team.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Freedom of movement (right to)