Spain - Supreme Court, 2 January 2009, 4251/2005

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
02-01-2009
Citation:
4251/2005
Court Name:
Supreme Court
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Headnote: 

The Supreme Court held, in light of a UNHCR Report concerning Colombian asylum seekers, that the burden of proof had been reversed; the High National Court had to establish that the Colombian authorities could effectively protect the applicant from the agents of persecution.

Facts: 

The applicant applied for asylum in Spain claiming to have suffered persecution as a result of extortion carried out by unknown non-state agents.

Her claim was refused by the High National Court. The High National Court found that the appellant did not provide evidence that she requested assistance and protection from the national authorities. The applicant also did not establish that the Colombian authorities were involved in the alleged persecution. Additionally, the Court found that there was a real and effective possibility of internal relocation.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Supreme Court  considered a UNHCR Report of September 2002 on International Protection Considerations Regarding Colombian Asylum-Seekers and Refugees which stated that, currently, there are no areas in Colombia without risk. The report added that whoever asserts that there is no risk on return has to provide evidence to establish that there is a real and effective possibility of protection.  Moreover,  the report stated that, in the context of the Colombian internal conflict, the Colombian authorities tolerate, support or even coordinate their actions with the paramilitaries. Specifically, in the Department of Antioquia, the authorities’ participation and their responsibility for the paramilitaries’ actions have been observed.

The Supreme Court held, considering UNHCR’s report, that the burden of proof had to be reversed and it had to be established that the Colombian authorities could effectively protect the applicant from the agents of persecution. As this fact had not been proved, the Supreme Court rejected the High National Court’s decision.

Outcome: 

The appeal was successful and the Supreme Court ruled that refugee status had to be granted.