Critical essays


The Spanish governmental policies on refugees are base don thwe Geneva Convention, the EU Directives and Intergovernmental Agreements from which the current Spanish legislation is derived. The basic legal framework is the Ley 12/2009 Reguladorqa del Derecho de Asilo y de la Protección Subsidiaria (Law for the Asylum Right and Subsidiary Protection). This legla norm was developed in agreement and with assistance of several NGOs working within the field with refugees and migrants, especially the CEAR (Spanish Comission for Refugee Aid) which included the broad-minded proposal (for EU States) the “Any person facing prosecution or danger in their home countries due to political, ethnic, social, religious or sexual reasons do not need to claim asylum simply by entwering their nearest Spanish Embassy”. This measure has been only put into practice in very few cases. Furthermore, The Spanish Parliament has not developed the Set of Rules to make the Asylum Law effectively enforced and followed by all State institutions and the Police.

Attention and assistance to refugees is provided at 3 different levels:

--Refugees Hosting Centres (CAR), run by the State and the Regions

--NGO Hosting Centres

--Temporary Stay Centres (CETI) in Ceuta and Melilla, run by the State.

Particularly these two cities , Ceuta and Melilla, in North Africa have been like controversial flashpoints periodically due to their condition as the southernmost EU border and at the same time the only EU land border with another continent. The Spanish government has ercted a Wall, with full EU assistance, to prevent the so-called ilegal entries, being heavily criticised by the media and NGOs now and then.

Spain belongs , as a EU member, to the Dublin Agreement, on cleaRING Asylum processes on the First European country to be arrived by refugees and agreed to host 17.000 Syrian refugees- of which only a part have been hosted.



The Great Recession that started in the USA in 2007 spread quickly to the rest of global economies. Spain was more heavily exposed to financial troubles than other European countries due to the fast economic expansive cycle arisen by the property ‘bubble’ that ran wild and free all over the country at the initial years of c 21st.

After some years  of expansion difficult to control because of the easy access to money and credit and an absolutely irresponsible banking policy that no authority within the country or the EU itself dared to stop, the country came into full economic recession in 2008. Thousands of businesses –first of all, obviously those related to building and property management- disappeared in a few months and millions of people became unemployed or redundant out of the blue.There were  thousands of evictions as lots of people could not pay back their mortgages after being made redundant , and at the same time, thousands of university graduates were coming out of college to face the harsh reality of being jobless for years. All these factors combined made for the origin of a wave of mass emigration, not only to more affluent European countries but mainly to them, of hundreds of thousands of people in the short space of 2-3 years.  This may explain the fact that these people arriving suddenly into Northern Europe might have been seen as ‘economic refugees’ by the media (especially those more sensationalist outlets) and the citizens of those countries. 



Most refugees that come to Europe, especially in Italy, are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria.  In the past, refugees also came from the Balkans, Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo.

Refugees are people who are outside the country of their nationality owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted (1951 Refugee Convention). Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have fled their homes but have not crossed an international frontier.

Some of the refugees claim to have relatives somewhere else in Italy or in Northern Europe and therefore ask to join those locations.  In order to verify the truthfulness  of such claims, vetting procedures are in place in coordination with other international organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM).  DNAs tests and inquiries need to take place. In some cases, however, it is not possible to verify the origin of refugees or request official documents to their embassies, as this would risk putting them in danger. 

Migrants and refugees come on dinghies, trucks and even on foot. They do not use normal, official transportation means. Once they arrive in Italy, they are taken to the so-called “hot-spots” where an initial identification recording is conducted. They are also fed, given new clothes and seen by a doctor.

Those people that are recognized as potential refugees are then sent to the SPAR (Sistema di Protezione per Richiedenti Asilo e Rifugiati – Lecce, Martano e Zollino), which is a network of municipalities that accept to host them. If the SPRAR are full, they are sent to the CARA (Centro Accoglienza Richiedenti Asilo – located in Bari – Apulia Region, Italy).

Each association belonging to SPRAR or CARA, receives funds for the migrants. 35€ per day and per person. In addition, by Italian law, each migrant receives a mobile phone, a sim card, 1,50€ per day and one ticket of the value of 30€ to buy food.



A procedure is in place to obtain political asylum: you have to apply for asylum at the police headquarters and then a panel of government representatives assesses the request and takes a decision. The  panel consists of experts from the police, the UN (UNHCR), a local representative and one interpreter.  This process can take time.

In order to get the Italian nationality a number of rules apply:

a. A person must give evidence that he/she has resided in Italy for at least 10 years,

b. If a foreigner gets married with an Italian citizen, he/she can obtain the Italian nationality after two years; if they have children, one year of marriage is enough;

c. If a parent is Italian, the children have directly the Italian nationality due to “diritto di sangue”;

d. Foreigners that are born in Italy may request the Italian nationality between the 18th and the 19th year of age.

If the asylum request is rejected by the panel, the migrant is sent to CIE (Centro di Identificazione ed Espulsione – in Restinco). 

If a migrant wishes to return voluntarily to his country of origin, an Italian government association called RVA (Ritorno Volontario Assistito) helps them with paperwork and gives them 2000€ (400€ cash; 1600€ for flight, goods and other services).

Minors enjoy special protection. Non-accompanied minors can never be expelled. If the family of a minor is expelled, the minor must follow the family.

Many migrants lie about their age so that they can stay in Italy. In case of doubt, the authorities can conduct x-rays of the wrist and teeth to assess the true age.

International protection.  The international protection seeker is a person who has applied for international protection and is awaiting the decision of recognition of refugee status or another form of protection.

In Italy, all immigrants are entitled to apply for international protection (Mod C3) Police Headquarters (Questura). See Schengen Informative system, Geneva Convention on 28th July 1951.