The European Court of Human rights has found that Denmark violated its international human rights obligations when it imposed a law that lengthened the amount of time a newly-arrived refugee must wait until they can apply for family reunification.
The decision comes as a result of an application by a Syrian national who had fled Syria in January 2015 and had further requested asylum in Denmark in April 2015, where he was granted a renewable “temporary protection status” for one year. The applicant had requested a family reunification with his wife, which was rejected as a result of a “three-year rule” passed in 2016, which amended Denmark’s immigration law to require refugees to wait three years before applying for family reunification.
The applicant appealed the decision of the immigration authorities, culminating in a decision of the Supreme Court of Denmark, which upheld the law and the subsequent decision of the authorities.
The applicant then made an application to the ECHR, alleging that the authorities’ decision to refuse to temporarily grant him family reunification was a breach of Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The court, in a 16-1 decision Friday, agreed with the applicant on the law’s violation of Article 8 of the Convention and further held that:
Having regard to all the above considerations, the Court is not satisfied, notwithstanding their margin of appreciation, that the authorities of the respondent State, when subjecting the applicant to a three-year waiting period before he could apply for family reunification with his wife, struck a fair balance between, on the one hand, the applicant’s interest in being reunited with his wife in Denmark and, on the other, the interest of the community as a whole to control immigration with a view to protect the economic well-being of the country, to ensure the effective integration of those granted protection and to preserve social cohesion.