Ramadan v. Malta (no. 76136/12) [Article 8 ECHR], 21 June 2016

Date: 
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The fourth section of the European Court of Human Rights has given its ruling in the case of Ramadan v. Malta (no. 75136/12) concerning the revocation of an acquired citizenship.
 
Mr Ramadan (the applicant), originally an Egyptian citizen, acquired Maltese citizenship following his marriage to a Maltese national. It was revoked by the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs following a decision by the relevant domestic court to annul the marriage on the ground that Mr Ramadan’s only reason to marry had been to remain in Malta and acquire Maltese citizenship. Meanwhile, the applicant remarried a Russian national. They currently reside in Malta with their two children. The applicant submitted an application to the ECtHR complaining that the revocation of his Maltese citizenship by the government violated his right guaranteed by Article 8 ECHR.
 
The Court reiterated that although the right to citizenship is not as such guaranteed by the ECHR, an arbitrary denial of citizenship might in certain circumstances raise an issue under Article 8 ECHR because of the impact of such denial on the private life of the individual. The Court observed that a loss of a citizenship already acquired or born into, as in the applicant’s case, could have the same (and possibly a bigger) impact on a person’s private and family life as a person claiming the right to acquire citizenship or complaining about the denial of recognition of such citizenship. Thus, also in these situations an arbitrary revocation of citizenship could in certain circumstances raise an issue under Article 8 of the Convention because of its impact on the private life of the individual.
 
In the circumstances of the applicant’s case, the Court found that the decision depriving him of his citizenship, which had had a clear legal basis under the relevant national law and had been accompanied by hearings and remedies consistent with procedural fairness, had not been arbitrary. The Court further stated that the applicant was aware that an annulment of his marriage could result in the revocation of his Maltese citizenship. The current claim was therefore a direct result of his own fraudulent behaviour and the consequences are therefore a result of his own choices and actions. The applicant was not threatened with expulsion from Malta and had been able to reside and pursue his business activities in Malta. Moreover, the applicant could still apply for a work and residence permit which could eventually make him eligible for citizenship. Lastly, he had not sufficiently convinced the Court that he had relinquished his Egyptian nationality nor demonstrated that he would not be able to re-acquire it if he had done so. Therefore, there had not been a violation of Article 8 ECHR.


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Keywords: 
Family member
Family unity (right to)