Spain - Supreme Court, 19 February 2010, 5051/2006

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The case concerned an appeal submitted before the Supreme Court against the decision of the High National Court to refuse refugee status on the grounds that it was not established that the persecution alleged against the applicants was individually and personally targeted. The Supreme Court found that the High National Court erred in requiring a higher standard of proof than what was needed. The High National Court had required the applicant to demonstrate ‘conclusive evidence’ (“full evidence”) of persecution, however, a lower standard of evidence was required by the law.


The applicant, his wife and children submitted an asylum application alleging a well founded fear of persecution in Colombia on the grounds of political opinion. The applicant argued that he was at risk because of his professional position in a university, and the fact of having reported a robbery committed by security guards working in the university. Moreover, in the Del Valle University, where he was working, he was wrongly linked to a Colombian paramilitary group. He received death threats against him and his family from the Sixth Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which acts in his particular region.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The High National Court considered, and the Attorney General reiterated, in order to establish persecution according asylum law it is not sufficient to establish that a situation of general and indiscriminate violence exists, It has to be proven that this violence has been directly and individually targeted at the asylum seeker personally. Also, the applicant has to prove that he did not receive adequate and sufficient protection from the state authorities. The High National Court also stated that the applicant could avail of an internal protection alternative.

The Supreme Court deemed that the following reasoning of the High National Court for refusing refugee status was incorrect: “to obtain international protection according to asylum law it is necessary to prove not only an objective and generalised persecution, but the persecution has to be targeted particularly and personally at the applicant of international protection and that has not been proven”. The High National Court erred in that it required a higher standard of proof to establish persecution (full evidence), while the law required just enough evidence to establish persecution.


The appeal was successful; the Supreme Court declared that the applicant’s right to asylum should to be recognised.


The relevance of this decision lies in the positive interpretation of the standard of proof and the level of evidence when individual persecution claims are considered. The Court can’t require a higher standard of proof than what is legally required.

Other sources cited: 

Amnesty International Reports.

Law (26 March 1984) on the Right of Asylum and Refugee Status (Asylum Act), Art 3, Art 8 and Art 17.