Deportation of Tunisian-Danish citizen with a permanent ban on return to Denmark

The author A.J., born in Denmark to a Danish mother and a Tunisian father and has dual nationality. A.J. was arrested in 2016 shortly after the Danish intelligence services received a list from Interpol of individuals, including A.J., believed to have been recruited by the terrorist organization the “Islamic State”. A.J. was subsequently convicted of going to Syria in 2013 – returning to Denmark in 2014 – and accepting recruitment and training by the “Islamic State” in order to commit terrorist acts.
A district court sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment, but found no basis for depriving him of his Danish nationality or for expulsion. This judgment was uphold by the High Court in 2018. However, the Supreme Court overturned the lower courts’ decisions in 2018. It ruled that, in view of the seriousness of his offences, he should be deprived of his Danish nationality and expelled from Denmark with a permanent ban on his return. It concluded that such sanctions would not be disproportionate, bearing in mind that he had ties not only to Denmark but also to Tunisia. Although he had been born, raised and educated in Denmark, his mother and siblings lived there and he was married to a Danish woman and they had a son together, he was also familiar with the Tunisian culture and spoke and read Arabic. It emphasized that the A.J.’s partner, who had converted to Islam aged 18, and son, who had attended an Islamic school in Denmark, were not entirely unprepared for accompanying him to Tunisia, and that in any case they could visit him and communicate by telephone and via the Internet. The applicant has served his sentence.
The ECHR found in particular that the decisions concerning the A.J., who has dual Danish and Tunisian nationality, had been made after a thorough, diligent and swift assessment of his case, bearing in mind the gravity of his offences, his arguments and personal circumstances, the Court’s case-law and Denmark’s international obligations. It emphasized that it was legitimate for Contracting States to take a firm stand against terrorism, which in itself constituted a grave threat to human rights.
Similarly, the ECHR was satisfied that the Supreme Court had made a thorough assessment when deciding to order his deportation. The court had examined the author’s personal circumstances, carefully balancing the competing interests, while taking into account the criteria set out in the European Court’s case-law and explicitly examining whether the expulsion order was contrary to Denmark’s international obligations. The national authorities had therefore given “very serious reasons” to justify the author’s expulsion, and the relevant order could not be said to have been disproportionate to the legitimate aim pursued, namely, the protection of the public from the threat of terrorism. Consequently, both the complaint about the stripping of the applicant’s Danish nationality and his expulsion had to be rejected as manifestly ill-founded.

17. November 2023

HUDOC 27801-19