Spain - Supreme Court (Contentious-Administrative Chamber), decision no. 469/2017 (appeal no. 2600/2016)
A person born in Tajikistan applied for statelessness status. The applicant argued that he could not ask for nationality from Tajikistan because that country would force him to convert to Islam. The Spanish authorities dismissed the application because, under their understating of Tajikistan law, nationality from that country is granted on a jus sanguinis basis regardless of the religion or ethnicity of the applicant. The court confirmed the decision of the Spanish authorities to deny the statelessness status on the grounds that: (i) given the alleged nationality of his parents it was reasonable to assume that the applicant could have the right to nationality of Tajikistan; (ii) it was not proven that the authorities from Tajikistan actually denied nationality to the applicant, that his parents were not from Tajikistan nor that it was required to convert to Islam to obtain the nationality; and (iii) the applicant filed its application in 2012 despite having arrived in Spain in 2003 (this delay goes against the credibility of the application).
Saharawi refugees living in its camps have not explicitly or implicitly been recognised as Algerian nationals, by the Algerian Government. The applicant’s passport issued by the Algerian Government grants the status of a travel document. Specifically, it was granted to allow the applicant to travel for medical reasons. The applicant’s stateless status must be recognised.
The applicant is a Saharawi man who was born in the former Spanish Sahara and who, in 1979, fled to the Saharawi refugee camps in Tindouf (Algeria), where he lived until 2005, when he arrived in Spain after being issued a passport by the Algerian authorities. In Spain, he applied for statelessness status. The Ministry of Interior rejected his application based on his Algerian passport, but this decision was overturned, on appeal, by the High Court, which found that Algerian passports are just travel documents.
The case concerns a Saharawi woman who was not recognised as a stateless person by the Ministry of Interior, in a decision which was later upheld by the High Court. The Supreme Court overturned both the lower decisions.