Moving to Europe and Deportation to Nigeria

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Background story

The European Court of Justice (hereinafter “the Court”) had to rule in on a case (Ruling 20200211_526_18 from 11th of February 2020). It was about a Nigerian national (hereinafter “the First Petitioner”) who was deported after moving to Switzerland. Other Petitioners were his wife, a Swiss national, and their three children, born in Switzerland.

In 2008 the First Petitioner entered Switzerland under a false identity. He also filed an asylum application. During the asylum procedure, the Swiss authorities convicted him for violations against the law on narcotics. The authority deported him to Benin in the following.

In 2010 the First Petitioner married his fiancée in Benin. Due to marriage he was granted residency in Switzerland. However, after moving back to Europe, the authority warned him that future offenses could affect his status in Switzerland. Namely, it could lead to the revocation of his residence permit.

In the following, the criminal court found the First Petitioner yet again guilty in connection with drug trafficking. Thus, the authority banned him from entering Switzerland for a period of 5 years.

He fought this decision in front of the Court. Mainly he claimed that his eviction would affect his family very much. In particular, he stated that the deportation would violate his right to respect for his private and family life (Article 8 ECHR). Moreover, he claimed this impending deportation causes a major depressive episode.

The Court ruled as follows

When moving to Europe, the Convention of Human Rights does not guarantee the right to enter or reside in a particular country. Also, when a foreigner fails to maintain public order, the states have the power to expel him.

In any case, their decision must consider several criteria. In general, the decision must be justified by an overriding social need. Furthermore, it has to be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued (in particular public order and safety).

The Court found that the Swiss authorities have carried out a sufficient examination of the relevant facts. The Court also found, that the Swiss authorities weighed adequately the personal interests of the First Petitioner.

In particular

The Cantonal Court (previous instance) considered that it is not reasonable for wife and children, who are Swiss nationals, to leave Switzerland and settle in Nigeria. However, it was possible for them to maintain close ties with the First Petitioner through modern communication.

The Court acknowledged that it was clearly in the best interests of the child to grow up with both his parents. Yet, the Swiss authorities have put the complainant’s case into perspective. In particular, they pointed out that his criminal activities were contrary to the welfare of the children.

The Court did rightly not qualify this conclusion of the Swiss courts and authorities as arbitrary or unreasonable. Therefore, it ruled the appeal manifestly unfounded and therefore inadmissible.

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