The European Court of Human Rights has declared the individual rejection of illegal immigrants at the EU's external borders to be lawful.
The lawyers of two Africans who had climbed over the fence from Morocco to Melilla in Spanish territory in 2014, brought the case before the court. There were arrested by Civil Guard officials at the time and handed over to the Moroccan authorities shortly afterwards.
The two citizens of Mali and Ivory Coast initially won their case in the Human Rights Court in 2017. But Spain appealed against the ruling and demanded that the Grand Chamber of the Court hear the case.
The majority of the judges followed Madrid’s position on Thursday.
The judges argued that while the rejections prevented those affected from applying for asylum in Spain, they were responsible for their behavior: the violent storming of the border, planned in conjunction with over a hundred other migrants. Instead, the plaintiffs should have tried to enter Spain legally, the judges ruled.
Most recently, Morocco had strengthened its own fortifications to the Ceuta and Melilla exclaves. In addition, the government in Rabat transferred thousands of police officers north to pick up the migrants and bring them to the south of the country, from where they can be brought to their countries of origin.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is a regional human rights judicial body based in Strasbourg, France, created under the auspices of the Council of Europe. The Court began operating in 1959 and has delivered more than 10 000 judgments regarding alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.
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