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The applicants, nationals of Syria, are members of a family who arrived in Spain through the resettlement programme 2015 for refugees. By decisions of 4 October 2017 of the Deputy Secretary of the Interior, they were granted subsidiary protection. They appealed that decision arguing that they should be granted refugee status and not subsidiary protection. The Chamber for Contentious Administrative Proceedings of the Audiencia Nacional (Fourth Chamber) delivered a judgment on 2 October 2019 dismissing their appeal. The court held that it was not apparent that they have been persecuted on an individual basis for any of the reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinions, membership of a particular social group, gender or sexual orientation entitling them to refugee status, which excludes the granting of refugee status and, therefore, the right to asylum. The court held that the grant of the subsidiary protection is lawful bearing in mind that the return of Syrians to their country of origin would put them at a potential risk of serious threats to their life or integrity.
The applicants lodged an appeal on points of law before the Supreme Court arguing that they should be granted refugee status and not subsidiary protection.
On 17 December 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that according to the current national legislation, the beneficiaries of a Resettlement Programme approved by the Government in cooperation with the UNHCR must be granted refugee status, and not subsidiary protection. The court noted that the mere fact of being a beneficiary of a Resettlement Programme involves the granting of refugee status as a different interpretation would lead to an unacceptable conclusion that there may be recognition of being a beneficiary of a Resettlement Programme but personal circumstances make it impossible to grant any of the means of protection provided for in the ‘protection framework’ regulated by the law. The court also noted that what characterises resettlement is a fully voluntary act of the States to establish Resettlement Programmes.
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