Greece: Athens Administrative Court rules on the evidentiary requirements to establish family relationships

Date: 
Friday, September 13, 2019

On 13 September 2019, the Athens Administrative Court delivered its judgment on the evidentiary requirements for family relationships in the context of an application for a residence document on humanitarian grounds.

The applicant, a Bangladeshi national, applied for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds, as the father of a Greek child. In order to prove the relationship with the child, the father submitted several documents, including the notarisation of his recognition of paternity and a family certificate where he had been registered as the father of the child. The authorities requested that the applicant further submit the result of a DNA-based paternity test, given that the initial application did not include any proof that the applicant was married to, or living with, the mother. The DNA results were not submitted and the application was rejected for this reason. The applicant challenged the decision arguing that the administrative authorities did not schedule a hearing before rejecting his request, despite his expressed availability to do so.

The Administrative Court of First Instance of Athens examined the case by first making a reference to international and European legal standards on the assessment of family cases. The Court considered that the Greek Constitution, as well as Articles 24 and 33 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, require the administrative authorities to grant a request for a humanitarian residence permit to the father of a Greek child. The judge further noted the evolution of the concept of family life in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the possibility that factors other than cohabitation may establish a genuine de facto family relationship. Moreover, the Court has confirmed that the child’s best interest should be of primary consideration in the balancing exercise between the rights of the parents and the rights of the child, including in situations of recognition of paternity.

Consequently, a request such as the one under examination should be rejected only in cases where the authorities can establish that the recognition of paternity served the purpose of abusing immigration laws, or where reasons of public order and security require so. Regarding the issue of non-submission of evidence, the Court found, inter alia, that the authorities should request prompt submission of any missing document and should also invite the parents for a hearing for a safe and fair assessment of the circumstances of the case. The decision of the authorities to reject the application was consequently annulled.

Many thanks to Stathis Poularakis, Lawyer and Editor of Immigration.gr, for sharing the text of the judgment with us. Thank you to Stavros Papageorgopoulos, Legal Officer at ECRE, for assisting us with the summary. Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team.


This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is pusexblished but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.

Keywords: 
Family member
Family unity (right to)
Standard of proof