The Netherlands – District Court rules on the existence of family ties between adult and minor siblings from Eritrea

Friday, December 7, 2018

On 7 December, the District Court of The Hague ruled in a case concerning the family reunification in the Netherlands of four siblings, nationals of Eritrea.

The applicant, holder of a temporary asylum residence permit, submitted applications for long-stay visas for her three siblings on the basis of family reunification, which were rejected by the Dutch authorities. The applicant claimed that the eldest sibling, residing in Israel, had to be considered as a foster parent, due to the fact that she provided financial support to all of them. The authorities rejected the applications considering that due to the applicants being siblings, there should have been more than a usual relationship of dependency, for their family life to require protection within the meaning of Article 8 ECHR.

The District Court of The Hague deciding on their appeal agreed, in principle, with the Dutch government’s argument that, according to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Dutch Council of State, additional elements of dependence are necessary to establish family life between an adult child and their parents or siblings.

It found, however, that the Dutch authorities had not adequately reasoned their decision to reject any family life considerations for the applicant’s case. The State Secretary for Justice and Security had, in particular, failed to address the applicants’ submissions regarding the importance of a variety of factors on the possibility to establish family ties. In this context, the ECtHR has already found that family life can be established between foster parents and child, due to the close inter-personal bond and behaviours in the relationship. Moreover, the authorities wrongly based their negative decision on the fact that the eldest sibling had left Eritrea, breaking, thus, any kind of family relationship with the rest of the siblings. The European Court has repeatedly stated that even in cases where co-habitation does not exist, other factors may exceptionally demonstrate that a relationship has sufficient constancy to create de facto family ties.

The Court found that the authorities should have sufficiently explained why they decided that other factors, such as financial and emotional dependence, or health considerations, did not constitute additional elements of dependence in the case in question. In this assessment, it noted that they should have also properly addressed and contested the medical documents and other reports the applicants submitted. The contested decision was annulled and the domestic authorities were ordered to issue a new decision on the case, taking into account the Court’s findings.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE. 



Dependant (Dependent person)
Family reunification
Medical Reports/Medico-legal Reports