To counter injustice with legal interventions – this is the aim and daily work of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).
ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck together with other international human rights lawyers, in order to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other declarations of human rights and national constitutions, through legal means.
Together with affected persons and partners worldwide, ECCHR uses legal means to end impunity of those responsible for torture, war crimes, sexualized violence, corporate exploitation and fortressed borders.
N.D. and N.T. v. Spain – A groundbreaking case for refugee and migrant rights
Strasbourg/Berlin/Madrid, 26 September 2018 – “My rights were violated by Spain. There needs to be measures to stop such harm from being done to other people. I still cannot accept that humans can treat humans like that. What I would like to see from this Court is that justice exists – even for those who are poor, vulnerable and do not have a voice,” said N.D. from Mali in a statement to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg. Today, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR heard again a key case on unlawful push-backs at the Spanish-Moroccan border. In October 2017, the ECtHR ruled that Spain’s practice of automatic expulsions violates the European Convention on Human Rights. The judgment followed complaints against Spain from N.D. and N.T. from Mali and the Ivory Coast who are seeking to enforce their fundamental right to have rights.
“N.D. and N.T. v. Spain before the European Court of Human Rights is a groundbreaking case for refugee and migrant rights,” says Wolfgang Kaleck, General Secretary of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). “The ECtHR has to clarify two things: that the European Convention of Human Rights applies at the external borders of the EU and that refugees and migrants must have access to rights.” ECCHR’s partner lawyer in Madrid, Gonzalo Boye, adds: “The ECtHR should not bend to the political interests of the Spanish or any other EU government, but must decide solely on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
In August 2014, N.D. and N.T. were directly pushed back to Morocco after they had crossed the border fence structure at Melilla. They were denied access to any legal procedures or protection. On the initiative and with the expertise of ECCHR, they submitted individual complaints to the ECtHR in February 2015. They are represented by ECCHR partner lawyers Carsten Gericke (Hamburg) and Gonzalo Boye (Madrid).
In other proceedings before the Court in Strasbourg, ECCHR is supporting refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in their complaints against brutal push-backs near the Idomeni camp on the Macedonian-Greek border.
Spanish authorities systematically and often violently expel refugees and migrants at their borders. The long-standing practice of push-backs at the external borders of the European Union is unlawful, as the European Court of Human Rights ruled. ECCHR supports the claims of two refugees against Spain.
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