CASE

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Case Name

Ilker Ensar Uyanık c. Turquie (Requête No 60328/09)

INCADAT reference

HC/E/TR 1169

Court

Name

Cour européenne des droits de l'homme

Level

European Court of Human Rights (ECrtHR)

Judge(s)
Françoise Tulkens (présidente); Danutė Jočienė, Dragoljub Popović, Işıl Karakaş, Guido Raimondi, Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, Helen Keller (juges); Stanley Naismith (greffier de section)

States involved

Requesting State

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Requested State

TURKEY

Decision

Date

3 May 2012

Status

Final

Grounds

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

Order

ECrtHR - Violation of Article 8 ECHR, award of damages

HC article(s) Considered

3 4 5 12 13(1)(a) 13(1)(b) 13(2) 13(3)

HC article(s) Relied Upon

3 12

Other provisions
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
Authorities | Cases referred to
Guerra et autres c. Italie, 19 février 1998, Recueil des arrêts et décisions 1998 I ; Berktay c. Turquie, No 22493/93, 1er mars 2001 ; Bianchi c. Suisse, No 7548/04, , 22 juin 2006 ; Zavřel c. République tchèque, No 14044/05, 18 janvier 2007 ; Karoussiotis c. Portugal, No 23205/08, 1er février 2011 ; Amanalachioai c. Roumanie, No 4023/04, 26 mai 2009 ; Raban c. Roumanie, No 25437/08, 26 octobre 2010 ; Bergmann c. République tchèque, No 8857/08, 27 octobre 2011 ; Cardot c. France, 19 mars 1991, série A No 200 ; Ignaccolo-Zenide c. Roumanie, No 31679/96, CEDH 2000-I ; Maumousseau et Washington c. France, No 39388/05, 6 décembre 2007 ; Waite et Kennedy c. Allemagne [GC], No 26083/94, CEDH 1999 I ; Neulinger et Shuruk c. Suisse [GC], No 41615/07, CEDH 2010.

INCADAT comment

Inter-Relationship with International / Regional Instruments and National Law

European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR)
European Court of Human Rights (ECrtHR) Judgments

Exceptions to Return

Protection of Human rights & Fundamental Freedoms
Protection of Human rights & Fundamental Freedoms

SUMMARY

Summary available in EN | FR

Facts

The case concerned a girl born in 2006. The parents were married and the family resided in the United States of America. In August 2007, the family went to Turkey on holiday. The father alleged that his wife had left him in September; she did not return to the United States of America and kept the child with her.

On November 28, the father returned to the United States of America alone. The father applied for divorce in the United States of America, and the mother in Turkey. In April 2008, the US Central Authority requested the child's return. The mother testified on the following day and explained that she had not returned to the United States of America because the father had taken her passport and the child's.

On 22 April, the return application was referred to the Family Court in Izmir. At the hearing on 24 June, the Public Prosecutor stressed that as the child was aged only 25 months, no psychological report was necessary, and he pleaded for return to be ordered. The Court dismissed the return application on the same day.

In July, an appeal was entered before the Supreme Court. The latter upheld the lower-court judgment on 19 February 2009. The father filed a motion for amendment on the grounds that this decision by the Supreme Court was inconsistent with that same Court's precedents. That plea was dismissed on 1 July 2009. The father applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECrtHR).

Ruling

Unanimous: infringement of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); award of damages on the basis of Article 41 of the ECHR.

Grounds

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)


The Court pointed out that it has discretion to characterise in law the facts of the matter, and stressed that the difference between the aims of the safeguards offered by Articles 6§1 and 8 of the ECHR, respectively, could, according to circumstance, justify the review of the same series of facts from the angle of either Article. It observed that the applicant had taken a series of administrative and judicial actions for his daughter's return to the United States of America, and challenged mainly the merits of the domestic Courts' decision denying that return.

In this respect, it pointed out that the complaints concerning disputes affecting the personal connections between parents and children are matters of "family life" within the meaning of Article 8 of the ECHR. Pointing out that Article 8 of the ECHR demands fairness of the decision-making process resulting in measures of interference, and requires the State to take appropriate measures to reunite the parent and child concerned, the Court reviewed the father's claims from the angle of Article 8 of the ECHR.

It noted that it was not disputed that the link between the father and his daughter was a matter of family life, and pointed out that it had had occasion, in the judgment Ignaccolo-Zenide v. Romania [INCADAT Reference: HC/E/ 336)], to rule upon the affirmative duties imposed on Contracting States by Article 8 of the ECHR as regards reuniting a parent and his or her children.

It added that when the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention is asserted, it does not apply automatically, and that the exceptions require the Court seized to "approach the matter in concreto". It stressed further that it was incumbent first of all on the domestic authorities to interpret the domestic legislation, as the role of the ECHR was merely to "ascertain whether they were applicable, and whether their interpretation was consistent with the Convention".

In its view, the crux was "whether the fair balance required between the competing interests involved - those of the child, those of both parents and those of the community - was secured, within the limits of the discretion available to the States in this matter", "though the child's best interest was to be the overriding consideration" but "the parents' interest, and in particular in having regular contact with the child, [remained] a factor in the balance of the various interests involved".

As the child's interests are determined case by case, it had to "ascertain whether the domestic courts had performed in-depth review of the whole family situation, and of a whole range of factors, factual, emotional, psychological, material and medical in particular, and whether they had performed a balanced and reasonable appraisal of all the parties' interests, with a constant concern to determine the best solution for the abducted child in the case of an application for return to its country of origin".

On that basis, the Court had jurisdiction "to review the procedure applied by the domestic courts, and to determine whether the grounds supposed to justify the measures actually selected [...] are relevant and adequate in relation to Article 8". The Court found that in the case in question, the Izmir Court had acted with regard for the child's interest and had considered that this interest consisted in remaining in Turkey with her mother.

The Court observed, however, that the only criteria that had been given consideration in the case were "the child's very young age and her resulting need for a mother's affection and attention". It was in no way apparent from the Turkish decisions that they had been made in the light of the principles laid down by the Hague Convention: the lower Court did not seem to have enquired whether the father had a right of custody or to have ruled on the lawfulness of the disputed retention. The same was true of the Supreme Court, which had merely found no mistakes in review of the evidence.

The Court noted that by considering that the child's retention was not such as to impede the child's personal relationship with her father, the Izmir Court had "not taken sufficient account of the fact that the presence" of the child "in Turkey made maintenance of that personal relationship de facto unrealistic".

Yet while very young age is "one criterion to be taken into account to determine the child's interest in disputes of this kind", the Court noted that "it may not be considered by itself as sufficient grounds, in relation to the requirements of the Hague Convention, to justify dismissal of the applicant's claim".

It accordingly held that, in the case in question, the domestic courts had not performed a review in depth of the whole family situation concerned, and that the decision-making process under domestic law had not met the procedural requirements inherent in Article 8 of the ECHR.

Author of the summary: Aude Fiorini

INCADAT comment

European Court of Human Rights (ECrtHR) Judgments

Protection of Human rights & Fundamental Freedoms

Preparation of INCADAT commentary in progress.

Faits

L'affaire concernait une enfant née en 2006. Les parents étaient mariés et la famille résidait aux États-Unis d'Amérique. En août 2007, la famille alla passer des vacances en Turquie.  Le père indique que sa femme l'aurait quitté en septembre ; elle ne rentra pas aux États-Unis d'Amérique et garda l'enfant avec elle.

Le 28 novembre, le père rentra seul aux États-Unis d'Amérique. Le père demanda le divorce aux États-Unis d'Amérique et la mère en Turquie. En avril 2008, l'Autorité centrale américaine demanda le retour de l'enfant. La mère fut entendue le lendemain et expliqua n'être pas retournée aux États-Unis d'Amérique car son mari avait pris son passeport et celui de l'enfant.

Le 22 avril, le Tribunal de la famille d'Izmir fut saisi de la demande de retour. A l'audience du 24 juin, le procureur souligna que l'enfant étant âgé de seulement 25 mois, un rapport psychologique n'était pas nécessaire, et demanda que le retour fût ordonné. Le Tribunal rejeta la demande de retour le même jour.

En juillet, un recours fut formé devant la Cour de cassation.  Celle-ci confirma le jugement de première instance le 19 février 2009. Le père forma un recours en rectification au motif que cette décision de la Cour de cassation était contraire à la jurisprudence établie de cette même Cour. Ce recours fut rejeté le 1er juillet 2009. Le père saisit la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme (CourEDH).

Dispositif

A l'unanimité : Violation de l'article 8 de la Convention européenne des Droits de l'Homme (CEDH) ; allocation de dommages-intérêts sur le fondement de l'article 41 de la CEDH.

Motifs

Convention européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH)

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Commentaire INCADAT

Jurisprudence de la Cour européenne des Droits de l'Homme (CourEDH)

Sauvegarde des droits de l'homme et des libertés fondamentales

Résumé INCADAT en cours de préparation.