May 19, 2024
Spain: European Court Approves Summary Deportations of Illegal Migrants
Migrants, often using extreme violence, are increasingly using the tactic of mass attacks against Spain's border fences in Ceuta and Melilla in an effort to overwhelm border police. During the past 18 months, thousands of migrants equipped with gloves, spike shoes and makeshift hooks have attempted to scale the fences.
Migrants, often using extreme violence, are increasingly using the tactic of mass attacks against Spain’s border fences in Ceuta and Melilla in an effort to overwhelm border police. During the past 18 months, thousands of migrants equipped with gloves, spike shoes and makeshift hooks have attempted to scale the fences.

In a landmark decision that will have potentially seismic implications for immigration policy in Europe, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Spain acted lawfully when it summarily deported two migrants who illegally tried to enter Spanish territory.

The Strasbourg-based court — which has jurisdiction over 47 European countries, and whose rulings are binding on all 27 member states of the European Union — ruled that in order for migrants to benefit from certain human rights protections, such as access to lawyers, interpreters and the right to remain in Europe, they must first enter European territory in a legal, as opposed to an illegal, manner.

The ruling, which effectively authorizes European governments summarily to deport illegal migrants immediately at the border, transfers some decision-making powers on immigration back to European nation states. The ruling is being viewed as a major victory for those who believe that sovereign nation states have the right to decide who is and is not allowed to enter their territory.

The Spanish case dates back to August 2014, when hundreds of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa stormed the border fence at Melilla, a Spanish exclave in North Africa. After spending several hours perched on top of the fence, two men, one from Ivory Coast and the other from Mali, climbed down and were handcuffed by Spanish border police, who handed them over to Moroccan authorities.

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