Spain - Supreme Court, 1 January 2008, 715/2008

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Headnote: 

The applicant lodged an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the decision issued by the High National Court refusing refugee status. The applicant challenged the decision on the grounds that the right to legal assistance, representation and to the assistance of an interpreter had been violated.

Facts: 

The applicant claimed that his asylum application was presented without the mandatory legal assistance. He added that his case file recorded a list of rights guaranteed to applicants in French, however, even though he had conversational knowledge of French, he did not have a deep knowledge of the language. The applicant stated that he was informed of his right to legal assistance without the assistance of an interpreter, thus, this prevented him from understanding the content of his rights. He claimed that he was deprived of his legal rights during the asylum procedure as he did not have legal assistance or representation (legal defenselessness).

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Supreme Court held that the decision of the High National Court was lawful because the applicant was informed of his right to legal assistance and an interpreter. The Court observed that while the applicant requested the assistance of an interpreter, he did not request the assistance of a lawyer. The applicant’s allegation that his application was submitted without the assistance of a lawyer did not automatically result in a situation of legal defenselessness.

The obligation assumed by the administration, and required by law, was to explain the possibility of accessing these particular rights; the execution of these rights, or the lack of execution, was not the responsibility of the Administration.

Outcome: 

The appeal was refused and refugee status was not granted.