Disabled Ecuadorian who couldn't name Spanish PM denied citizenship

Lack of knowledge demonstrates "insufficient degree of integration" the High Court rules

A mentally disabled Ecuadorian man has been denied Spanish citizenship because he is unable to communicate in written Spanish or answer such questions as who is Spain's prime minister.

His lack of knowledge of such basic matters pertaining to "the country of which he hopes to be a national and its society" demonstrates "an insufficient degree of integration and scarce links" with Spain, the High Court ruled.

The decision upholds the previous negative ruling given by the Justice Ministry and rejects an appeal by the plaintiff, who has lived legally in Spain with his mother, grandmother and aunt since January 2006. It argued that, proportionally, demanding "fewer integration requirements, the greater the mental disability would mean a form of positive discrimination which is not stipulated in the legal system."

"Social integration in Spain does not just depend on knowledge of the language at the level of oral expression or on membership of or attending an occupational handicrafts workshop," read the ruling in reference to the fact that the Ecuadorian man, who lives in Almería and whose disability is recognized by the Andalusian department of equality and social wellbeing, participates in a workshop organized by the Andalusian Foundation for the Social Integration of the Mentally Ill.

According to the ruling, it was the plaintiff's mother who made his request for Spanish nationality and obtained two favorable reports during the process. But in the course of the audience with the judge responsible for the civil registry, he "did not understand" questions such as whether "he had Spanish friends or ones from other countries or who is [Spanish Prime Minister] Mariano Rajoy." He also "pulled faces after being surprised" by other questions such as "what is the capital of Andalusia?" and "where are the Giralda, the Alhambra and the Prado Museum?" the ruling stated. It likewise points out that he answered "I don't know" to questions asking him "to name three regions" of Spain, to say "how many provinces Andalusia has, or whether he was a member of any association."

He did, however, respond correctly to questions about the colors of the Spanish and Andalusian flags and said that he lives "legally in Spain, that he goes to a workshop because he believes he is studying, that he receives a payment, that he has never committed a crime and that he lives with his mother, grandmother and aunt."

The High Court's resolution also stated that he was unable to write down a text or read an article from the civil code.

The man's lawyer had argued in his appeal, which can now be taken to the Supreme Court, that the decision had violated his client's basic rights as "mental disability cannot be taken into account to discriminate, but rather the opposite, it ought to be taken into account when considering the degree of integration since he fulfills the requirements established in the civil code to receive Spanish nationality."

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