A ruling on migrant rights by the European Court of Human Rights last week has placed the new coalition government led by President Pedro Sánchez in a quandry.
On Thursday, the highest appeals panel of the Council of Europe’s court on human rights ruled on a case brought against Spain in 2017 involving two men who had reached Spanish territory in a mass storming of the border fence, only to be summarily expelled back to Morocco without having given individual consideration to their cases.
In its decision, the EU court ruled in favour of Spain’s longstanding position on the express deportations of migrants who enter Spanish territory in mass stormings of border fences at the country’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Effectively, the rights court ruled that the Spanish government is within its rights to deport individuals who reach Spanish territory in an organized, illegal and mass storming of its border perimeter and that Spain did not have to treat them in accordance with international treaties protecting the rights of migrants who arrive to any country seeking permission to remain.
► News Sources: El Diario, El País and Europa Press …
The new governing coalition between the Socialist party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos were left in a quandary by the ruling, because both partners in government expected a ruling from the court that would overturn the practice of express deportations leftover from the previous conservative Partido Popular governments under former President Mariano Rajoy.
In the run-up to the 2019 general elections, the Socialists had campaigned saying they were in principle against such express deportations, but would keep the deportations policy in place until the European Court of Human Rights ruled on the matter. Coalition partners Unidas Podemos have consistently maintained their position firmly against the policy.
Non-governmental organizations working to protect migrant rights immediately lashed out at the EU court ruling, saying it was a step backward in the protection of migrant rights for Europe and calling on Spain to ignore the ruling and halt the express deportations.
Members of the new government met on Friday to attempt to hash out a coherent response to the court ruling, one that would satisfy the demands of the two parties’ progressive voter base while not generating headlines that could serve to fuel increased anti-immigrant rhetoric and mobilize the conservative voter bases of Spain’s right-wing parties.
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