The authors – M.M.J., Iraqi national, and S.K., Pakistani national, had had a criminal record for many years before the events in question. Convictions were for, among other things, violent, drugs, and driving offences, and offences while in prison. In 2016, M.M.J. was charged in connection with violent offences and needed to be expelled from Denmark (he had two previous conditional expulsion orders against him). The Danish Immigration Service agreed that that would be the correct course of action. He was convicted. His expulsion and a six-year re-entry ban were ordered. That decision was upheld on appeal by the Western Denmark High Court and the Supreme Court and finally sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. The Supreme Court referred to, in particular, the M.M.J.’s repeated offences as an adult and the likelihood he would reoffend, considering that those factors were weightier than the author’s strong ties to Denmark. Following the first-instance expulsion decision, he was convicted of another unrelated drugs offence.
S.K. was charged with threatening a police officer and not having the right residence permit, alongside other offences. He was given a prison sentence and a fine, and a two-year suspended expulsion order. The City Court referred to his leadership of a criminal gang, his numerous convictions for other offences, his lack of a dependent family, and the need to prevent disorder. In 2018, that decision was upheld by the High Court of Eastern Denmark and the Supreme Court, with a final sentence of three months’ imprisonment and a 12,200 Danish kroner fine. His expulsion and a six-year re-entry ban were also ordered. It appears that the applicant was released from pre-trial detention in 2017 and left Denmark soon afterwards.
Relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention, the authors complained to ECHR separately that the decisions to expel them from Denmark had breached their rights. Both authors submitted that their crimes had not been particularly serious and that the domestic authorities had failed to take the relevant circumstances into account when balancing their rights against the public interest. They argued that their expulsions and re-entry bars had been too severe in the light of the custodial sentences given.
The ECHR reiterated that a State is entitled to control the entry and residence of foreign nationals there. However, expulsion decisions had to be in accordance with the law and proportionate. As none of the parties disputed that there had been a lawful interference in both cases, the question thus was whether they had been proportionate.
The ECHR decided that that there had been no violations of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned the authors’ expulsions from Denmark being ordered following repeated convictions for various criminal offences, despite their having lived there since a young age. The ECHR found in particular that the domestic authorities had taken into account the authors’ particular circumstances, in particular the specific crimes and their prior criminal records, and that their ties to Denmark had been properly examined. It considered that the sentences had been proportionate.
15. November 2023