The report details the workings of the Spanish asylum procedure, pending a legislative reform of the Asylum Law aimed at implementing the recast EU Directives on Asylum Procedures and Reception Conditions, which should have been transposed into national law by last July. It also offers a critical discussion of the country’s controversial age assessment procedure for unaccompanied children. The age assessment process is set out in a 2014 Protocol, which has been contested by a ruling of the Supreme Court, notably on the ground that children should not undergo medical age assessments when they possess official documentation stating their minority.
Access to the territory and the asylum procedure remains another critical challenge in the Spanish protection system. Following an amendment to the Aliens Law in March 2015, allowing authorities to “reject at borders” third-country nationals that are found crossing the border illegally, Spain has been criticised for ignoring human rights law and international law obligations towards asylum seekers and refugees. This critique has also formed the subject of N.D. and N.T. v. Spain, a case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
Persons entering the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla are kept in temporary stay centres (CETI), before being transferred to the mainland. Conditions in those centres were, however, substandard due to overcrowding last year. The CETI of Melilla, whose maximum capacity is 480 places, was hosting 1,156 people last October.
Beyond Ceuta and Melilla, Spain has generally suffered from a shortage of accommodation places in recent months. To address gaps in the reception system up until now managed by 3 NGOs, the government adopted a Decree in September to expand reception capacity by authorising 3 more organisations to provide housing to asylum seekers. The same measure provided for the possibility to host asylum seekers in hotels for a maximum period of 30 days to wait for an accommodation place to be made available.
For more information, see:
- AIRE Centre, Amnesty International and ECRE, Joint Third Party Intervention in N.D. and N.T. v. Spain, 22 November 2015.
- CEAR, Report on refugees in Spain and Europe 2015.