Spain - High National Court, 25 March 2009, 993/2007

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
Court Name:
High National Court
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The applicant lodged an appeal before the High National Court against the decision of the Ministry of Interior to refuse granting refugee status. The refusal was based on the application of an exclusion clause due to the applicant’s alleged membership of a terrorist group and for having committed serious crimes.

It was discussed whether this exclusion clause had been applied lawfully and also if, alternatively, the applicant could be authorised to stay in Spain for humanitarian reasons since, if he was expulsed, there was a risk of suffering inhuman or degrading treatment


The applicant submitted the asylum application in Spain on the 3rd of June 2005 alleging the following facts:

He is from Chechnya  and lived in Grozny with his wife and children from where he moved to Ingushetia when, in 1999, the second war between Chechnya and Russia broke out; on the night of the 21st October 2004 a terrorist group invaded Ingushetia and killed 57 people; he was detained by Russian authorities as he was suspected of belonging to the terrorist group and was tortured for three days; he was released in September; in May he became aware that a university student accused him of  being a member of the terrorist group who attacked Ingushetia in October 2004; after becoming aware of the accusation he escaped and arrived in Barcelona some days later.

The application was refused by the Ministry of Interior ruling that the applicant fell under the scope of Art 1F(b) of 1951 Refugee Convention since there were serious reasons for considering that he had committed serious crimes and  belonged of a terrorist group. Moreover, there was an extradition request from the Russia Federation founded on an accusation of terrorism. 

Decision & Reasoning: 

The applicant lodged an appeal before the High National Court and presented, among other documents, the declaration of the student withdrawing his accusations and also a report from UNHCR containing requests from different human rights’ organisations asking for the extradition of the applicant not to be carried out on the basis that if he was prosecuted in Russia, a criminal investigation respecting all the procedural guarantees was not guaranteed.

The High National Court declared that considering the reasoning of the Criminal Chamber of the High National Court which ruled that it was lawful to carry out the extradition of the applicant to the Russian Federation, – there were well founded reasons for the applicant come under the scope of Art 1F(b) of 1951 Refugee Convention. The Court added that it was not competent to decide whether the applicant was or wasn’t guilty of the accusations made by the Russian Federation.

Concerning the possibility of authorising the applicant to stay in Spain for humanitarian reasons, the Court had to assess if the decision complied with the principle of non-refoulement and Art 3 of ECHR. Thus, it had to be examined if the extradition of the applicant entailed a risk of suffering inhuman or degrading treatment.

The Court, analysing the documents presented, stated that the Russian authorities had agreed to respect the guarantees requested by the Spanish judicial authorities, assuring the applicant’s fundamental rights (the so-called “Diplomatic guarantees”): there were no well-founded reasons to have doubts regarding the Russian authorities’ commitment. Therefore, there were no well- founded reasons to believe that the applicant would suffer inhuman or degrading treatment.


The appeal was not successful. Neither in its principal request for refugee status, nor in its subsidiary request authorising the applicant to stay in Spain for humanitarian reasons. The extradition to the Russian Federation was ordered.

Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR - Müslim v Turkey (Application no. 53566/99)

ECtHR - Sultani v France (Application no. 45223/05) - (UP)