Human Rights Committee: Rejected application for family reunification amounts to arbitrary interference with family life

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

On 20 November 2019, the Human Rights Committee (the Committee) delivered its decision concerning the rejected application for family reunification in the case of Nimo Mohamed Aden and Liban Muhammed Hassan v Denmark (No. 2351/2015).

The applicants, a Somali national and a Danish national, married in Nairobi in June 2012 after starting a relationship by telephone in early 2012. The husband returned to Denmark and made an application for family reunification in December 2012, which was refused by Danish authorities on the grounds that the applicants were cousins and that there were no special reasons to grant reunification. A second application was made in August 2013, following the birth of their child. This was rejected on the grounds that there was evidence of a forced marriage. The applicants submitted that the Danish authorities concluded that the marriage was forced without a thorough investigation and had placed the burden on the applicants to prove otherwise. They complain that the rejected application for family reunification amounted to an unlawful interference with their right to family life under Articles 17 and 23 ICCPR.

The Committee affirmed that the meaning of ‘family’ must be interpreted broadly, and may differ from State to State, as established under General Comment No. 19. The Committee noted, inter alia, that the Immigration Appeals Board’s conclusion that the applicants had not provided evidence of a family bond to be protected had been made without consideration of direct testimony from the applicants.  Moreover, it noted that the domestic assessment criteria determining how individuals may prove their marital relationship other than cohabitation were not clear. The relationship, lasting for seven years was therefore held to fall within the meaning of ‘family’.

The Committee observed that domestic authorities had failed to consider the relationship in the context of the couple’s personal situation and cultural context of their country of origin. Indeed, the common residence of the husband, wife, and child was that of a normal family, and the refusal of a visa for family reunification amounted to an unjust interference with their family life. The Committee concluded that this interference amounted to a violation under Articles 17 and 23 ICCPR.

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.



Burden of proof
Family member
Family reunification