Court ruling allows Syrian youth to bring family to Germany

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BERLIN (Reuters) – A Berlin court ruling that permits the parents and siblings of a 16-year-old Syrian migrant to join him in Germany will now take effect after the foreign ministry abruptly dropped an appeal of the decision, German broadcaster ARD reported on Friday.

ARD said Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a member of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), decided to drop an appeal filed just days ago, allow the ruling to take effect, following intense criticism by top SPD leaders.

The ruling was the first to deal with the right of under-age migrants to bring their families to Germany and could set a new precedent, ARD reported.

The foreign ministry had no immediate comment on the issue, but Gabriel told the broadcaster: “We know that it is bad, of course, when minors are here without their parents. It’s a good thing that we now have clarity.”

The ministry’s reversal on the issue comes as Gabriel’s party prepares to enter talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives about continuing the “grand coalition” that has ruled Germany for the past four years.

Migration – and the issue of allowing migrants to bring family members to Germany – could be a key topic in the coalition talks, which are due to begin on Jan. 7. Merkel had failed to reach agreement with two smaller parties.

The case in question centres on a Syrian youth who arrived in Germany in the summer of 2015 with an older cousin, and was granted only “subsidiary protection” rather than full asylum.

In 2016, the government had decided to suspend family re-unifications for two years for migrants with “subsidiary protection”, which is granted to people who are not considered as being persecuted individually but in whose home country there is war, torture or other inhumane treatment.

The court said that rejecting the family reunification in this case violated child welfare protections guaranteed under the European human rights convention and the U.N. Refugee Convention.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

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