Spain - Supreme Court, 30 June 2011, 1519/2010

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Headnote: 

The applicant claimed asylum in 2006 (along with her children) alleging a well founded fear of persecution on the grounds of political opinion. The application was refused in the initial procedure and on appeal.  She returned to Colombia and two years later, returned to Spain and reapplied for asylum and was again refused. She lodged an appeal before the Supreme Court and was granted subsidiary protection.

Facts: 

The applicant entered Spain on the 15th April 2006 and claimed asylum at the border alleging a well founded fear of persecution in Colombia on the grounds of political opinion as her partner actively supported the Conservative Party. She stated that her partner had already applied for asylum in Spain and his application was under examination. She claimed to have suffered rape and physical mistreatment by a non-identified group, who subsequently threatened her and her partner.

UNHCR issued a negative decision on the applicant’s case and on the 17th April, two days after the application, she was refused in the preliminary examination procedure. The applicant appealed this negative decision. The appeal was refused and both the applicant and her partner were requested to return to Colombia. In both administrative decisions the refusal was based on inconsistencies identified in the report presented by the applicants upon which their case was based. It was alleged that the applicant failed to establish a link between the attack suffered (and the subsequent threats) and her political opinions.

On the 10th May 2007, the applicant returned to Spain and reapplied for asylum under the border procedure providing ample documentation to support the allegations. The application was accepted under the preliminary examination. However, on the 4th September 2008, the application was refused by the Ministry of Interior based on similar reasons provided in the two earlier decisions.

On 14th October 2008, the applicant lodged an appeal against the decision to refuse refugee status before the High National Court: the appeal was again refused.

On 28th January 2010 the applicant lodged an appeal before the Supreme Court as a last resort.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Supreme Court reiterated several considerations already expressed by the previous authorities concerning inconsistencies encountered and stated that the persecution in accordance with the 1951 Refugee Convention had not been established.

Notwithstanding, the Court examined the secondary request for subsidiary protection on the grounds of serious and individual threat by reason of an internal armed conflict. The Supreme Court found that the physical and mental integrity of the applicant would be threatened if she returned to Colombia. The attack suffered in 1999 had resulted in serious psychological consequences.

This declaration, and consequently the granting of subsidiary protection, were based fully on the information provided in a psychosocial report by the Refugee Reception Centre (CAR) of Valencia. This report recommended that the applicant should not be returned as she required a secure and stable environment.

According to the report, the applicant suffered individually as a result of the on-going situation of indiscriminate violence in Colombia. The report stated, “The applicant has to be protected regardless of the identity of the criminal gang (terrorists or criminal gang) that carried out the attack.”

Outcome: 

The appeal was partially successful: refugee status was not granted but subsidiary protection (expressed in the decision as “residence for humanitarian reasons” because the former Spanish Asylum Law 5/1984, Art 15 was applied) was granted.

Observations/Comments: 

This decision is important because the Supreme Court supports its decision for granting subsidiary protection exclusively by a psychosocial report.