The Constitutional Court has refused to support an application by a homeowner facing an order for demolition of the property issued by the Madrid Town Hall. This was in fact the second to be built on the same spot after a similar dwelling had been demolished on foot of a previous order from the Town Hall on the basis that the sub-standard dwelling had no planning approval. The Moroccan owner claimed he was not aware he needed permission.
In 2007 the original demolition order was carried-out despite objections from people living in the area which eventually led to violence with both neighbours and riot police injured in the melee that ensued. The part of Madrid is home to almost 50,000 people – many of Rumanian and Moroccan origin and according to the police, is a centre for selling drugs and where the children do not attend school and rather travel to the centre of the Capital where they take part in robberies.
While the Constitutional Court would not entertain the petition by the homeowner against the fact that the same formal order had been used for the second demolition, given that it was the actions of the appellant that caused the situation to arise in the first place. Had the first order been complied with, there would have been no reason to return to the issue again. Not only were the measures taken by the Town Hall proportional, but they were in fact the only option available.
Neither could it be argued that failure to consider new local bylaws by which alternatives to demolition may have been sought affect the proportionality of the action taken since the laws had not been in force when the demolition order was approved.
Amnesty International in Madrid urged local administrations to stop carrying-out demolitions where the occupants would effectively be rendered homeless and no alternative solutions had been offered as per the standards demanded by international agreements on human rights.
Interestingly two of the presiding magistrates registered dissenting judgments on the basis that to permit the demolition to proceed was not in keeping with the European Convention on Human Rights.