Spain’s top court recognizes Saharawis as stateless people

Madrid – Spain’s Supreme Court has recognized a Western Saharawi woman as stateless because the Moroccan nationality cannot be “imposed” on her, court sources said Wednesday. The ruling opens the door for other Saharawis to seek a similar recognition in Spain. Some 200,000 Saharawis are living in camps in Algerian Tindouf, which received an influx of refugees after Morocco annexed the territory following the withdrawal of the colonial power Spain in 1975. Khadijatou Bourkari Dafa, 39, came to Spain seven years ago for medical treatment on a temporary Algerian passport. Algeria refused to renew the passport, because Dafa was not an Algerian citizen. She is also not a Spanish citizen, and the Moroccan nationality cannot be “imposed” on her, the Supreme Court said. Dafa is therefore stateless, and will be entitled to the right to live and work in Spain, the court concluded. The law will open the way for other Saharawis to seek the condition of stateless people, undoubtedly to the dislike of Morocco, which regards Western Sahara as its own, commentators said. After Morocco took over the territory, the independence movement Polisario Front waged a guerrilla war against the kingdom until the United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991. A referendum on independence foreseen for 1992 has still not taken place, and Polisario is threatening with a new war unless Morocco finally allows the vote.

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