ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2016.03.10

View Adopted: 2022.10.25

J.S.K.N. v. Denmark

Discriminatory impact on people with disabilities of language requirements for naturalization

Substantive Issues
  • Disability
  • Non-discrimination
Relevant Articles
  • Article 2 - OP1
  • Article 2.1
  • Article 26
  • Article 5.2 (b) - OP1
Full Text


The author of the communication is J.S.K.N., a stateless Palestinian person. In 2002, he was granted refugee status and a permanent residence permit in Denmark. As a victim of torture, the author suffers from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder. He submits that his disability prevents him from learning more than a basic level of Danish. In 2013, he applied for Danish citizenship, but his application was rejected on the grounds that he did not satisfy the language requirements. The author was informed that his case had been examined by the Parliamentary Naturalization Committee, and that the Committee had determined that he could not benefit from any exemption from the language requirements. He was also informed that the Committee did not have to provide reasons for its decisions, and that such decisions could not be appealed. The author claims that the rejection of his application was discriminatory based on his disability status, and thus in violation of article 26 (equality before the law), read alone and in conjunction with article 2(1).


The Committee notes the State party’s submission that the author had not exhausted the available domestic remedies, since, in light of a Supreme Court judgement, he could have applied for judicial review of the authorities’ decision. However, the Committee also observes that the author was explicitly informed that the decision could not be appealed. Moreover, the lack of reasoning left the author with no actual and reasonable possibility to lodge an appeal. Therefore, the claim under article 26 is admissible.


The Committee notes that distinctions based on reasonable and objective criteria and in pursuit of a legitimate aim do not amount to discrimination. It then considers that, since the Naturalization Committee did not provide the author with the reasons behind its decision, the State party has failed to demonstrate that the refusal to grant the exemption from the language requirements was based on reasonable and objective grounds. Therefore, Denmark violated article 26.


The State party is obligated, inter alia, to take appropriate steps to provide adequate compensation and reconsider the author’s application, taking into consideration the Committee’s findings. The State party is also under an obligation to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.


Deadline: 25 April 2023

More information on the case:

European Commission, European Website on Integration - Denmark: Impossible for disabled people to secure citizenship

By: Giacomo Bruno

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