Munir Johanna v Denmark, Khan v Denmark: ECtHR judgments find no violation of Article 8 in expulsion decisions following criminal sentences

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

On 12 January 2021, the ECtHR published separate judgments in Munir Johanna v Denmark (application no. 56803/18) and Khan v Denmark (application no. 26957/19). 

Mr Munir Johanna, an Iraqi national, entered Denmark at the age of four. After the age of sixteen, he had a criminal history that included convictions for violent offences and a drug offence. He was previously the subject of two suspended expulsion orders. He was convicted of a further aggravated criminal offence for which he was sentenced to six months imprisonment and an expulsion order was made against him with a ban on re-entry for 6 years. Mr Khan, a Pakistani national born in Denmark in 1986, had a criminal record and previously was the subject of a conditional expulsion order. He was convicted of a further offence and sentenced to 3 months imprisonment and an order for expulsion with a ban on re-entry for 6 years. 

In both judgments, the ECtHR examined whether “very serious reasons” were adequately adduced by the Danish authorities when assessing the applicants’ cases. It referred to the criteria set out in Üner and Maslov to assess whether the expulsion orders were necessary in a democratic society. In relation to the criterion of the “nature and seriousness” of the offence committed, the ECtHR stated that despite the leniency of the sentences, the offences were serious and of a violent nature. Referring to Miah, it further stated that the national courts were entitled to take into account that the offences were the last in a series of crimes and the applicants had consistently demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with Danish law. 

The ECtHR’s assessment of other criteria acknowledged, inter alia, that the expulsion would be ‘considerably burdensome’ on the applicants. However, it held that Mr Munir Johanna and Mr Khan would not be incapable of establishing lives in Iraq and Pakistan, respectively. The ECtHR also regarded the fact that the re-entry bans were limited as an important element and noted that the applicants would not be barred from resuming their private lives in Denmark after six years.

The ECtHR concluded that the interference in the applicants’ private lives was proportionate and “very serious reasons” were adequately adduced by the Danish Supreme Court in both cases, to show that the expulsions would not be disproportionate. As such, no violations of Article 8 ECHR were found. 

In Khan v Denmark, Judge Pejchal wrote a dissenting opinion largely concerning the admissibility of the case.

Photo: Latvian Foreign Ministry, October 2014, Flickr (CC)

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 published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Family unity (right to)
Serious non-political crime