The European Court of Human Rights held Friday that the deportation of Charles Unuane, a Nigerian national convicted of falsifying documents, violated Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Unuane, a Nigerian national who has been living in the UK since 1998, had been convicted of falsifying documents “to remain in the United Kingdom. In June of 2014, following his conviction, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for the Home Department filed a deportation order against him. Under the United Kingdom Borders Act of 2007, the Secretary of State justified this order by stating that Unuane was a “foreign criminal” and that his deportation was “deemed to be conducive to the public good.” The Secretary of State also filed a deportation order against Unuane’s partner and two of Unuane’s three children.
The Secretary of State’s decision was quickly appealed. Unauane claimed that he had “established family life and private life in the United Kingdom and his deportation to Nigeria would be in breach of Article 8” Unuane also argued that the Secretary of State had failed to sufficiently consider that one of Unuane’s children, a British citizen who had not received a deportation order, and who had been born with a rare congenital heart defect, would be unduly impacted by the decision.
On appeal, Unuane presented evidence that his child had already undergone three open-heart operations and would be requiring a fourth open-heart surgery in the “reasonably near future.” A report by the child’s pediatric cardiologist stated that the “necessary surgery would not be available in Nigeria” and “sending [the child] to Nigeria would have a ‘significant impact on his long-term future.'”
Based on both the child’s ongoing medical needs and a desire to not split the three siblings, the Upper Tribunal concluded that Unuane’s partner and three children would be allowed to remain in the UK, but Unuane would be deported. Following this decision, Unuane was deported on February 27, 2018.
However, on Friday, the European Court of Human Rights held that the deportation order did not strike a “fair balance between the applicant’s Convention rights . . . and the community’s interests.” Accordingly, the court held that the deportation order against Unuane violated his rights to have a “private and family life” and freely access “his home and his correspondence” as protected by Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.