Achieving Danish citizenship

The applicant, now a Danish citizen, was born in 1944 in Iran, where he was imprisoned in 1984 and subjected to torture. Three years later, he escaped to Turkey with his wife and two children, where he was granted refugee status. In 1990, he and his family entered Denmark and obtained a permanent residence permit.

Between 1998 and 2009, the applicant applied for Danish nationality eight times. However, all his applications were denied. He was not able to pass the Danish language test, because of his mental state. Due to the torture that the applicant has been subjected to, he suffers from severe mental health problems. These include depression, memory loss, and difficulty communicating even in his own language. This made it impossible for the applicant to pass the necessary Danish language test.

At the time of his first application, it was possible to be exempt from this test if “the person in question … proved unable to learn Danish to a sufficient degree due to a mental disorder, for example as a result of torture” (article 23). The exemption was changed in 2006. Now the exemption was for an illness “of a very serious nature” documented by a medical professional.

The applicant was not aware of these exemptions and was only informed when he started receiving legal aid in 2008. On the eighth application in 2009, the applicant requested reopening of his case and submitted that the exemption had, wrongly, never been considered in his case. However, the application was refused.

After the refusal, the case was sent to the European Court of Human Rights. The case was taken under consideration by the Court. In 2012 the Danish Ministry of Justice reopened the case in Denmark. Finally, after new psychiatric diagnosis and an additional two years, the applicant was granted Danish citizenship in 2014.

Read more about the case in a piece written by Open Society here.

16. June 2020

HUDOC 55607/09
  • Decision: 19. January 2017
  • Comm: HUDOC