Revocation of residence permit by the Netherlands is condemned by the European Court of Human Rights

Revocation of residence permit by the Netherlands is condemned by the European Court of Human Rights
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Anouk Pinaud 

International Justice and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence, 

In a judgment handed down by the Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on Tuesday 30 May, the Netherlands had been violated one of the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The case, Azzaqui v. the Netherlands (application no. 8757/20), involved the revocation of Mr Azzaqui’s residence permit in 2018 and a ten-year ban on entering the Netherlands due to his alleged threat to public safety. 

Mr Azzaqui is a Moroccan national who has lived in the Netherlands since 1982. A few years after arrival, the applicant is granted a permanent residence permit. During his life, Mr Azzaqui is guilty of several offences, including rape in 1996. Due to a psychiatric problem, the Dutch courts have limited his liability for this crime. Following this conviction, the applicant spent the following years in a penitentiary clinic.
In 2018, Azzaqui's residence permit was revoked by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Security and he was barred from entering the Netherlands for a period of ten years. The reason for this decision is that he constitutes a threat to public order. The Dutch courts ruled that, despite the fact that he has been living in the country for many years, the seriousness of the crimes committed, and the risk of re-offending justified the revocation of his residence permit. This decision was subsequently assessed and upheld by the national courts.

Thus, before the European Court of Human Rights, the applicant invoked Article 8 of the ECHR which guarantees the right to respect for private life. Mr Azzaqui complained that the decision in 2018 had been disproportionate and that the Dutch authorities did not take into consideration his personal situation, which involves significant mental illness. 

In its ruling, the Court reiterates fundamental principles. Firstly, the Court reminds that States have the right to control the entry and residence of foreigners on their territories. Secondly, the Convention does not guarantee the right of foreigners to reside in the Member States. States have a freedom of assessment that cannot be impaired. However, the Court Considers that the revocation proceedings had overall paid little attention to the applicant’s personal circumstances. Indeed, the applicant’s convictions, including crimes of a violent and of sexual nature, could constitute solid grounds for the applicant’s expulsion. But the Court also considers that the courts failed to take into account the access and availability of medicines in Morocco as well as the social consequences of his illness in his country of origin.

On this basis, the Court concluded that the Dutch authorities had failed to duly take into account and to properly balance the interests at stake. 

This case is particularly interesting because, despite the wide margin of appreciation granted to States, the Court takes account of the interests at stake and ensures that the rights of all are guaranteed.

Sources and further readings: 

European Court of Human Rights, Third Section, Case of Azzaqui v. The Netherlands (Application no. 8757/20), Judgment, 30 May 2023: 

Legal summary, May 2023, Azzaqui v. the Netherlands – 8757/20, Judgment 30.05.2023, European Court of Human Rights: 

Press Release issued by the Registrar of the Court, ECHR 159 (2023), 30 May 2023, Decision revoking Moroccan national’s residence permit in the Netherlands insufficiently took into account his mental illness: