Spain - Supreme Court (Contentious-Administrative Chamber), appeal no. 4734/2011

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.  

Case name (in original language)
Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo, Sala de lo Contencioso, recurso nº 4734/2011
Case status
Case number
ECLI: ES:TS:2014:1330
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo)
Language(s) the decision is available in
Applicant's country of residence
Relevant Legislative Provisions

Ley Orgánica 4/2000, de 11 de enero, sobre derechos y libertades de los extranjeros en España y su integración social (Aliens Act). 

Real Decreto 865/2001, de 20 de julio, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento de reconocimiento del estatuto de apátrida (Status Determination Procedure Regulation). 

Standard of proof: article 34.1 -Aliens Act- and article 1.1 -Statelessness Determination Procedure Regulation-. 

Burden of proof: article 8 -Statelessness Determination Procedure Regulation-

Decision & Reasoning

“[The applicant] is not an Algerian national, despite the fact that he was issued a passport on humanitarian grounds by the Algerian authorities” (Leal Reasoning no. 4). 

“The applicant (…) has produced all information and documentation that allow to identify his birth place, parentage, as well as that of his ancestors, and current documentation which clearly matches his statements made in the application form, and an account regarding his lack of Algerian nationality that has been confirmed by information offered by Algerian and Spanish authorities (among which there is an Algerian passport with a visa issued in the Spanish Consulate from Algiers)” (Legal Reasoning no. 5). 

“Therefore, it is not about mere statements made by the applicant, but about unequivocal, confirmed and comprehensive background information included in the administrative file (the information and documentation provided by the applicant comprise its first 29 pages), which reveal that the applicant meets the requirements for acquiring the statelessness statute” (Legal Reasoning no. 5).  


No violation (the Court upheld the inferior court’s decision to overturn the Government’s rejection of statelessness status) 

Caselaw cited

Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo, de 20 de noviembre de 2007 (appeal no. 10530/2007) [used in the case]

Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo, de 18 de julio de 2008 (appeal no. 555/2005)

Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo, de 19 de diciembre de 2008 (appeal no. 7337/2005)

Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo, de 30 de octubre de 2009 (appeal no. 2805/2006)

Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo, de 20 de junio de 2011 (appeal no. 5767/2007)

Sentencia del Tribunal Supremo, de 22 de junio de 2011 (appeal no. 4979/2009), among others.