The expulsion of a Moroccan national living in Italy for 20 years on grounds of public order protection has not infringed his family or private life
Narjis v. Italy 14.02.2019 (no.57433/15)
The case concerned the Italian authorities’ refusal to renew the residence permit of a Moroccan
national (Mr Narjis) who had lived in Italy for 20 years, on the grounds that he posed a danger to
society, and his expulsion to Morocco.
The Court decided to examine Mr Narjis’s complaint under the “private life” limb of Article 8 on the
grounds that the applicant’s situation – as an unmarried 39-year-old adult with no children, who had
no specific bonds of dependency with his family members (all of whom were adults) – did not fall
within the ambit of “family life” protected by Article 8 of the Convention.
The Court held that the national courts, which had specifically referred to Article 8, had taken all the
circumstances into account in weighing up Mr Narjis’s interest in the protection of his private life
against the State’s interest in protecting public order, in application of the criteria laid down by the
Court. In particular, it noted that, in view of the applicant’s criminal record, his regular use of drugs
and his apparent inability to integrate into professional life, the Italian authorities had had legitimate
grounds to doubt the solidity of his social and cultural ties with the host country.
The applicant, Mohamed Narjis, is a Moroccan national who was born in 1979 and lives in Morocco.
Mr Narjis was admitted to Italy in 1989 under a family reunion procedure. His father had obtained a
residence permit as an itinerant trader. On the father’s death in 2009 his trading activities were
taken over by Mr Narjis’s mother and one of his sisters.
In 1995 Mr Narjis dropped out of school and began to take drugs. He remained in Italy on the basis
of renewable work permits. His police record has 19 entries, including some convictions, in particular
for aggravated theft and armed robbery.
In January 2010, while he was imprisoned following a conviction for a robbery, Mr Narjis applied for
the renewal of his residence permit. His application was twice turned down by the Milan Head of
Police, in March and July 2010, on the grounds of the danger posed to society. Mr Narjis appealed to
the administrative court.
In July 2010 the Prefect of Milan ordered his expulsion. Mr Narjis appealed to the Milan Justice of
the Peace, who stayed the proceedings pending the administrative court’s decision. Meanwhile Mr Narjis had left Italy for Morocco. In February 2012 the administrative court dismissed his appeal and
the Consiglio di Stato upheld that judgment.
In April 2016 a new wanted notice was issued against Mr Narjis after a conviction for receiving stolen
property. He is currently in Morocco.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Article 8 (right to respect for private life)
The Court reiterated that the Convention did guarantee any right right to an alien to enter or reside
within the territory of a particular State. However, the removal of a person from a country where
close members of his or her family were living could amount to an infringement of the right to
respect for family life. In addition, the totality of social ties between settled migrants and the
community in which they were living constituted part of the concept of private life.
In the present case, the Court considered that, given the very long period (20 years) that Mr Narjis
had been resident in Italy, the refusal to renew his residence permit and the decision to remove him
from the national territory had amounted to an interference with his right to respect for private life.
However, considering the fact that Mr Narjis was an unmarried and childless adult of 39 years and
that he had not demonstrated additional elements of dependence other than normal emotional ties
towards his mother, sisters and brother (all of whom were adults), the Court decided not to examine
his complaint under the “family life” head.
The Court also noted that the interference with Mr Narjis’s right to respect for private life was in
accordance with the law2 and had pursued a legitimate aim, namely the “prevention of disorder or
With regard to the necessity of the interference in a democratic society, the Court noted, firstly, that
Mr Narjis’s criminal record contained a series of convictions, at final instance, for serious offences
which indicated a clear and growing tendency towards repeat offending.
In addition, the applicant was an unmarried and childless 39-year-old adult, who had no particular
relationship of dependency towards his family. Thus, the Court noted that, in view of his criminal record, regular use of drugs and his apparent inability to integrate into professional life, the Italian authorities had had legitimate grounds to doubt the solidity of his social and cultural ties with the host country.
Moreover, if Mr Narjis were to return to Italy, he would be immediately rearrested and imprisoned
in order to serve a sentence of four years and seven months for receiving stolen goods. At the same
time, the Court noted that the Consiglio di Stato, in a judgment that was reasoned at length, which
contained no hint of arbitrariness and referred specifically to Article 8 of the Convention, had taken
all the circumstances into account in weighing up Mr Narjis’s interest in the protection of his private
life against the State’s interest in protecting public order, in application of the criteria laid down by
That judgment had been pronounced following lengthy proceedings in which the Administrative
Court had initially suspended the decision not to renew Mr Narjis’s residence permit, on the grounds
that the police authorities had not sufficiently weighed up the different interests at stake, as
required by the Court’s case-law. The Administrative Court had subsequently held that the police
authorities, in execution of their first decision, had complied with the requirements of Article 8 by
weighing up the various interests at stake and taking due account of the length of Mr Narjis’s
residence in Italy, his family situation and the social ties that he had forged with the country.
In consequence, the Court saw no strong reason to substitute its own view for that of the national
courts. It therefore concluded that there had been no violation of Article 8 of the Convention (echrcaselaw.com editing).