Boultif v Switzerland: ECHR 2 Aug 2001

The applicant complained under Article 8 that the Swiss authorities had not renewed his residence permit, after which he had been separated from his wife, a Swiss citizen and who could not be expected to follow him to Algeria. Switzerland argued that his conviction for an offence of violence was sufficient justification for interfering with his rights.
Held: The Convention does not guarantee any right to inhabit a country. The refusal was in accordance with law, but the question was whether the interference in this manner was necessary in a democratic society. Although he had been convicted of a serious crime, the evidence was of rehabilitation. The interference in this case was not proportionate.
As to the suggested article 8 interference: ‘The Court has only to a limited extent decided cases where the main obstacle to expulsion is the difficulties for the spouses to stay together and in particular for a spouse and/or children to live in the other’s country of origin. It is therefore called upon to establish guiding principles in order to examine whether the measure was necessary in a democratic society.
In assessing the relevant criteria in such a case, the Court will consider the nature and seriousness of the offence committed by the applicant; the length of the applicant’s stay in the country from which he is going to be expelled; the time elapsed since the offence was committed as well as the applicant’s conduct in that period; the nationalities of the various persons concerned; the applicant’s family situation, such as the length of the marriage; and other factors expressing the effectiveness of a couple’s family life; whether the spouse knew about the offence at the time when he or she entered into a family relationship; and whether there are children in the marriage, and if so, their age. Not least, the Court will also consider the seriousness of the difficulties which the spouse is likely to encounter in the country of origin, though the mere fact that a person might face certain difficulties in accompanying her or his spouse cannot in itself exclude an expulsion.’


54273/00, (2000) 22 EHRR 50, [2001] ECHR 497


Worldlii, Bailii


Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1953 (1953 Cmd 8969), European Convention on Human Rights 8


Human Rights

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Special Adjudicator ex parte Ullah; Regina v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 17-Jun-2004
The applicants had had their requests for asylum refused. They complained that if they were removed from the UK, their article 3 rights would be infringed. If they were returned to Pakistan or Vietnam they would be persecuted for their religious . .
CitedEB (Kosovo) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 25-Jun-2008
The claimant arrived as a child from Kosovo in 1999. He said that the decision after so long, it would breach his human rights now to order his return.
Held: The adjudicator had failed to address the effect of delay. That was a relevant . .
CitedNorris v Government of United States of America SC 24-Feb-2010
The defendant faced extradition to the USA on charges of the obstruction of justice. He challenged the extradition on the basis that it would interfere with his article 8 rights to family life, given that the offence was merely ancillary, the result . .
ConfirmedUner v The Netherlands ECHR 18-Oct-2006
(Grand Chamber) The court considered the application of article 8 considerations in extradition and similar proceedings, and said: ‘the best interests and well-being of the children, in particular the seriousness of the difficulties which any . .
CitedZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 1-Feb-2011
The respondent had arrived and claimed asylum. Three claims were rejected, two of which were fraudulent. She had two children by a UK citizen, and if deported the result would be (the father being unsuitable) that the children would have to return . .
CitedQuila and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 12-Oct-2011
Parties challenged the rule allowing the respondent to deny the right to enter or remain here to non EU citizens marrying a person settled and present here where either party was under the age of 21. The aim of the rule was to deter forced . .
CitedHesham Ali (Iraq) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 16-Nov-2016
The appellant, an Iraqi national had arrived in 2000 as a child, and stayed unlawfully after failure of his asylum claim. He was convicted twice of drugs offences. On release he was considered a low risk of re-offending. He had been in a serious . .
CitedMM (Lebanon) and Others, Regina (on The Applications of) v Secretary of State and Another SC 22-Feb-2017
Challenge to rules requiring certain minimum levels of income (Minimum Income Requirement – MIR) for allowing entry for non-EEA spouse.
Held: The challenges udder the Human Rights Act to the Rules themselves failed. Nor did any separate issue . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Immigration

Updated: 18 July 2022; Ref: scu.164814