Spain: Audiencia Nacional revises its jurisprudence in light of UNHCR Guidelines regarding asylum applicants from Honduras

Friday, February 9, 2018

On 9 February 2018, the Spanish Audiencia Nacional ruled in case 605/2016 regarding an appeal against the decision to reject the application for international protection submitted by a Honduran child. Her parents had also applied for asylum in Spain, without success. The family fled Honduras after being the victims of exploitation and threats from the part of the MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) gang, an international criminal organisation active in Central and North America. Despite several complaints before the national authorities, no investigation was undertaken and the family received no protection from the authorities. The asylum authorities and the Supreme Court in Spain have found on several occasions (see, for instance, case RC-2821/2015) that threats received by asylum applicants from that group fell outside the scope of international protection.

In its most recent decision, the Audiencia Nacional acknowledged the need to review its position in the light of the UNHCR “Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from Honduras”, published in July 2016. From the guidelines, the Audiencia Nacional concluded that a big part of the Honduran population is affected by the situation of general violence in the country, that the intense violence and presence of different arm groups allow the situation to be qualified as an internal conflict, and that the Honduran State is not able to offer protection to the population due to the strength of the Mara gang, the lack of sufficient police personnel and the deficiencies in the criminal justice system.

In the case in question, the Audiencia Nacional found that the applicant’s account matched the practice of extortion and threats described in the UNHCR Guidelines, which indicates that the applicant’s life and personal integrity are in danger. The fact that the applicant is a minor also had to be taken into consideration when assessing if the circumstances amount to persecution and justify the granting of international protection. Therefore, the national authorities’ decision was quashed and the child was granted refugee status.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.




This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.



Actor of persecution or serious harm
Child Specific Considerations
Internal armed conflict