European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights (ECrtHR)
Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque (President), Egidijus Kūris, Iulia Antoanella Motoc
21 May 2019
Grave Risk - Art. 13(1)(b)
ECrtHR - Violation of Article 8 ECHR, award of damages
Article 8, European Convention on Human Rights
The mother, a Romanian national, and father, an Italian national, were married and lived together in Italy. They had two children born in 2008 and 2010.
On 12 June 2015 the family went to Romania for their summer holiday. The father returned to Italy a few days later, expecting to collect the mother and children at the end of the summer. On 25 June 2015 the mother informed the father that she would not be returning to Italy with the children. The mother claimed that the father was violent and had mistreated her and the children.
On 14 September 2015 the father lodged a criminal complaint against the mother in Italy for child abduction to a foreign country and on 29 September 2015 to the Bucharest County Court in Romania for the return of the children to Italy.
On 18 January 2016 the Bucharest County Court ordered the return of the children to Italy, concluding that there was nothing to oppose the children’s return and that the mother had influenced them against the father.
The mother appealed and on 30 March 2017 The Bucharest Court of Appeal upheld the order to return the children.
The children refused to go back to Italy and in May 2018 the results of counselling stated that the children refused contact with their father despite the mother’s efforts to encourage the relationship.
The court found that there had been a violation of the Article 8 Right to Respect for Private and Family Life and awarded damages to the mother and the children.
A child’s return cannot be ordered automatically or mechanically when the Hague Convention is applicable and the domestic courts should have given more consideration to the potential risk of ill-treatment for the children if they were returned to Italy. The courts should have at least ensured that specific arrangements were made in order to safeguard the children.