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ECHR concluded that Spain did not breach the Convention in returning migrants to Morocco who had attempted to cross the fences of the Melilla enclave

Input Provided By
Other Source/Information:
Referral to the CJEU
Original Documents
Relevant Legislative Provisions
European Convention on Human Rights; Return Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals); Revised Qualification Directive (Directive 2011/95/EU on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as BIP for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection- recast)/or QD 2004/83/EC;
Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR], N.D. and N.T. v Spain, Applications no. 8675/15 and 8697/15, ECLI:CE:ECHR:2020:0213JUD000867515, 13 February 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EUAA Case Law Database.
Permanent link to the case
Case history
Related cases:

According to HUDOC's press release

In the case of N.D. and N.T. v. Spain (applications nos. 8675/15 and 8697/15) the European Court of Human Rights held:

  • unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 (prohibition of collective expulsion) to the European Convention on Human Rights, and
  • unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention taken in conjunction with Article 4 of Protocol No. 4.

The case concerned the immediate return to Morocco of two nationals of Mali and Côte d’Ivoire who on 13 August 2014 attempted to enter Spanish territory in an unauthorised manner by climbing the fences surrounding the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the North African coast. The Court considered that the applicants had in fact placed themselves in an unlawful situation when they had deliberately attempted to enter Spain on 13 August 2014 by crossing the Melilla border protection structures as part of a large group and at an unauthorised location, taking advantage of the group’s large numbers and using force. They had thus chosen not to use the legal procedures which existed in order to enter Spanish territory lawfully.

Consequently, the Court considered that the lack of individual removal decisions could be attributed to the fact that the applicants – assuming that they had wished to assert rights under the Convention – had not made use of the official entry procedures existing for that purpose, and that it had thus been a consequence of their own conduct. In so far as it had found that the lack of an individualised procedure for their removal had been the consequence of the applicants’ own conduct, the Court could not hold the respondent State responsible for the lack of a legal remedy in Melilla enabling them to challenge that removal.

In the Jugment, reference is also made to a practical tool developed by EASO together with Frontex and the FRA for the purpose of helping the first contact officers to determine whether there are indications that a person may wish to apply for international protection

Country of Decision
Council of Europe
Court Name
CoE: European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR]
Case Number
Applications no. 8675/15 and 8697/15
Date of Decision
Country of Origin
Access to procedures
Border procedures
Effective remedy
EUAA Country Guidance Materials