A right to family reunification for persons granted international protection? The Strasbourg case-law, state sovereignty and EU harmonisation
17 Friday Jun 2016
by DDr. Philip Czech, Senior Scientist at the Austrian Human Rights Institute, University of Salzburg
For a long time, the European Court of Human Rights showed great respect for state sovereignty in the field of migration and was very reluctant to affirm a right of aliens to enter a Convention State to reunite with family members living there. Only in very rare cases has the Court found violations of the European Convention on Human Rights when migrants or refugees have been denied reunification with their children or spouses in the state of residence. However, recent case-law points to an increasing shift from respect for states’ prerogatives in the field of immigration to a strengthening of the human rights of aliens. On the one hand, the Court has adjusted its approach under Article 8 ECHR giving increased weight to the interests of refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection to be reunited with their loved ones (1) and on the other hand, applicants have been successful in utilising the Article 14 prohibition of discrimination to claim a right to family reunification (2).