Recently, I had the pleasure to rework an old case (ca. 2003) of the European Court of Justice and turn it into a case brief. You don’t need to know all that much about the case (which can be found here, if someone deliberately would like to subject themselves to the torture of European bureaucracy), but the bottom line of the story is that a Moroccan man tried to immigrate into the UK several times and was deported repeatedly, despite being married to a British citizen.
There’s much more to the case, but I’ll reduce it to the essential question here. The Moroccan gentleman is not allowed to stay, because he broke laws, therefore the usual “Marry a different citizen and get residence permit” doesn’t work. However, this conflicts European Convention of Human Rights, as Article 8 guarantees the right to family life. Basically, what it comes down to is the question wether Human Rights are more important than national (and in this case also transnational) law. Should he be allowed to stay despite having broken law and the European Court of Justice holding that the usual laws don’t apply to him?
As a Human Rights activist, my stance on this is rather clear. Personally, I believe Human Rights are worthy of protection and need to be applicable and not only theoretical. The modern occidental world is still full of crimes against humanity, which is sad given how “civilized” we see ourselves. Wether it would be the death penalty or black sites like Guantanamo in the US, the so called “Sicherheitsverwahrung” (imprisoning detainees longer than their actual sentence for the sake of “public safety”) in Germany or the discrimination and deportation of Sinti & Roma in France, those are just few examples. Just recently, the access to clean water was denied the status of a Human Right.
So yes, I firmly believe Human Rights matter more than national law does (with certain exceptions). Article 8 specifically has limitations to rule out criminals from abusing their options, so just imagine yourself being a whole continent away from everything you love and not allowed to change that.
On a completely related note, the European Court of Justice was with me on that decision. (Mental) high five!