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The Commissioner intervenes before the European Court of Human Rights in a case concerning family reunification in Denmark

Third party intervention
Strasbourg 08/02/2019
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The Commissioner intervenes before the European Court of Human Rights in a case concerning family reunification in Denmark

Today the Commissioner published her written observations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the case of M.A. v. Denmark. This case concerns the refusal to grant family reunification to a person with temporary protection status, because he had not yet held a residence permit for three years.

In her submission, the Commissioner observes that a number of Council of Europe member states, including Denmark, have introduced restrictions limiting the family reunification rights of persons with subsidiary or temporary protection, whilst such restrictions have not been applied to persons recognised as refugees. The Commissioner recalls that the case law of the Court recognises family reunification as an essential right which enables refugees to resume a normal life. She observes that persons with subsidiary or temporary protection also share a number of key characteristics with refugees, including the fact they cannot be returned, that they cannot be held responsible for leaving family members behind, and that they are a vulnerable group. On this basis, the Commissioner underscores that persons with subsidiary or temporary protection should be considered to be in a similar situation to refugees with regard to access to family reunification.

The Commissioner also notes the negative effects of long-term family separation on persons applying for family reunification, their family members who have been left behind, and the host society as a whole. She underscores that long waiting periods before an application for family reunification is accepted, including the three-year period in Denmark, fail to meet the requirement of promptness.

Third party interventions represent an additional tool at the Commissioner’s disposal to help promote and protect human rights. They are foreseen by the European Convention on Human Rights and are based on the Commissioner’s country and thematic activities.