When humans become migrants

A blog containing Marie-Bénédicte Dembour's 30 episode podcast to support her book.

Episode eight: The inconsistent success of migrant human rights cases in the 1990s

In this episode I discuss how the growing success of some migrants at the European Court of Human Rights saw the emergence of a case law “lottery” in the 1990s.


We consider the case of Berrehab about a Moroccan man who was married to a Dutch woman and who lived in the Netherlands. When the couple separated, the authorities decided to expel him despite the fact that he was seeing his daughter four times a week.

The family applied to the European Court of Human Rights and the Court found a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1988. This was a first in a migrant case.

The Berrehab judgment marked a turning point as a number of verdicts deciding that expulsion breached the right to family life followed. Just a few years down the line, however, most migrants started to lose again.

This led to the case law being characterised as a lottery.

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berrehabeuropean court of human rightsfathers' rightsparental rights of migrantsright to family life

Marie-Benedicte Dembour • March 2, 2015

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