ECtHR judgment in Hasanbasic v. Switzerland (no. 52166/09)

Friday, October 4, 2013

The applicants are a married couple of Bosnian nationality. Mrs. Hasanbasic obtained a settlement permit in Switzerland in 1979. After they had married some years later, Mr. Hasanbasic obtained a settlement permit too. In 2004, he informed the authorities that he intended to return permanently to his country of origin and his settlement permit expired. However, he returned in December of the same year on a tourist visa. Mrs. Hasanbasic submitted a request for family reunification, but this was rejected by the authorities and courts, arguing that Mr. Hasanbasic had been convicted on criminal charges on nine occasions between 1995 and 2002 for traffic offences and housebreaking, and that the couple had acquired debts and relied on welfare assistance. Mr. Hasanbasic remained in Switzerland with his wife until 2009, when their last appeal against the denial of family reunification was rejected. Before the Court, the applicants alleged a violation of Article 8 caused by the refusal to grant Mr. Hasanbasic a settlement permit after having lived there for more than 20 years.
The Court considered that the denial of the residence permit had constituted an interference with the applicants' private and family life and that, in view of the long and uninterrupted period during which the applicants had lived in Switzerland, the authorities needed to prove convincingly a pressing social need to deny the settlement permit. The Court took  the view that reliance of the couple on public aid and their debts had been the most weighty considerations in the decision of the Swiss authorities. Although such considerations are legitimate under the Convention as justifying grounds for interferences with private life, the Court found that, in view of the long period of residence of the applicants in Switzerland and of their strong social links to the country, the denial of the settlement permit had been disproportionate and not justified by a pressing social need. The Court also noted that other factors, such as the deteriorating health of Mr. Hasanbasic, the existence of common children in Switzerland, or the fact that his offences were not enough to consider him a threat to public order or security in Switzerland, should also be taken into account.

Read the full text of the judgment on the website of the European Court of Human Rights.

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Family reunification
Family unity (right to)