Complaint Against the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Through an ‘Ordinary Administrative Procedure’
Armed Conflict in Yemen
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
The second administrative challenge also brought in November 2020 similarly sought to access information and documentation relating to a licensing decision of the JIMDDU and followed a separate information request that was denied on the basis of the Official Secrets Act.
In particular, the claimants requested documentation relating to licences granted for the export of artillery ammunition by a specified manufacturer Expal Systems, who were also named as co-defendants in this case, to the UAE and/ or Saudi Arabia from 2017 – 2020. In support of this claim, evidence was introduced that the manufacturer had exported military goods.
Unlike the previous case, which sought to appeal the denial of information using the ‘special’ procedure for the protection of fundamental rights, this submission followed an ‘ordinary’ administrative procedure in which the claimants argued that the government had acted in violation of the rules on transparency under Spanish domestic law.
The High Court dismissed this claim at first instance, upholding the classified nature of the requested information under domestic law. An appeal of this decision has recently been accepted before the Supreme Court with a hearing date pending.
Case Development: Prosecutor's Opposition to Greenpeace's Appeal at the Supreme Court of Spain (Ordinary)
The Prosecutor opposes the claimant’s appeal filed at the Supreme Court. It concludes that there is no reason to depart from High Court decision and that the appeal should be dismissed. The...
Case Development: Supreme Court of Spain Order of Admission (Ordinary)
The Supreme Court accepts the appeal request and admits the case for consideration, focusing on whether the denial of access to information is compatible with Spanish transparency rules.nn The...
The claim proceeded on two grounds:
First, that access to information can only be restricted when it serves a legitimate ‘national security’ purpose, which is not met in this case. It was argued that this Ministerial decision favoured economic interests over international law (ATT) obligations to not export arms that would pose a threat to peace and fundamental rights.
Second, that the Minister had not properly justified the decision to uphold the confidentiality of licensing decision-making processes on any permitted grounds under the applicable law. Law 19/2013, Article 14(1)
This claim was dismissed by the High Court of Justice of Madrid.
The court relied on similar reasoning to their decision under the parallel fundamental rights procedure to uphold the classified nature of the requested information and conclude that there had been no violation of the contested rights.
Specifically, the court held that the right to access information under domestic law is not absolute and can be subject to lawful limitation on specified grounds, namely the commercial interests of private actors and security and defence that it found to be established in this case.
The claimants sought to appeal this decision before the Supreme Court.
In May 2022, the Supreme Court accepted the claimant’s notice of appeal and admitted the case for consideration, specifying two areas of consideration.
Right to access information
First, whether there is a right to access information on arms exports can be read into Spanish arms export control legislation. Law 53/2007, Article 16
Freedom of expression
Second, whether the classification of certain documents as classified is permitted under the Spanish transparency laws that enshrine the right and permissible limits to freedom of expression. Law 19/2013, Article 14(1)(a), (b), (j) and (k)
The claimants have since filed their appeal before the Supreme Court on the basis of these two questions.
09 Mar 2020
Greenpeace Spain requests information from the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism regarding the granting of licences for the ‘export of artillery ammunition manufactured by Expal Systems to the UAE and/or Saudi Arabia from 2017 – 2020’.Read the request here
10 Mar 2020
Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism denies access to requested documentation.Read the response here
27 Nov 2020
Case enters the courts. Claim submitted through an ‘ordinary administrative procedure’ at the Administrative Court challenging the refusal to disclosure information.Read the claimant's submission here
30 Sep 2021
Court Judgment. Case Dismissed.Read the judgement here
29 Dec 2021
Greenpeace seeks to appeal to the Supreme Court.Read the notice of appeal here
04 May 2022
The Supreme Court admits the appeal for processing.Read the admission here
21 Jun 2022
The claimants file their appeal at the Supreme Court responding to the key points in the court's order of admission.Read the appeal here
Appeal in Cassation at the Supreme Court of Spain (Ordinary)Read the document in full
Notice of Appeal in Cassation to the Supreme Court of Spain (Ordinary)Read the document in full
Written Conclusions of the ClaimantsRead the document in full
Formal Submission to the High Court (Ordinary)Read the document in full
Appeal Lodged Before High Court of Justice of MadridRead the document in full
Prosecutor’s Opposition to Greenpeace’s Appeal at the Supreme Court of Spain (Ordinary)Read the document in full
Government Opposition to the Admission of Greenpeace’s Appeal at the Supreme CourtRead the document in full
Written Conclusions of the GovernmentRead the document in full
Government Response to Complaint Filed 27.11.2020 at the High Court of Justice of MadridRead the document in full
Admission of Evidence by the High Court of Justice of MadridRead the document in full
Summons to File Suit at the High Court of Justice of MadridRead the document in full
Admission of Appeal for Processing at the High Court of Justice of MadridRead the document in full
Contact the Claimants
This claim was brought by the Spanish branch of NGO Greenpeace. The claimants were represented by lawyer Laura Díaz Román.
If you would like to know more about this case, please get in touch with our primary contact Lorena Ruiz-Huerta (Greenpeace Spain) by email. The claimant’s external legal representative can be contacted by email here.