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PRESS RELEASE: Raw v. France

8 March 2013

ECHR finds a violation of Article 8

(Version française ci-dessous)

On the 7th March the European Court of Human Rights delivered its Chamber judgment in the case of Raw v France. The Court found that the French authorities had violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to respecet for a family life) for not taking all the necessary measures in order to facilitate the return of children who were wrongfully abducted by their father in the United Kingdom.  

The judgment establishes that in cases involving child abductions, where national courts have ordered that children be returned to the country where they habitually reside, the authorities must take the necessary steps to carry out that order, including taking coercive measures against the parent who had abducted the children.  The Court also confirmed that the abducted child is a victim of a violation of the Convention for these purposes and can therefore be an applicant in the case, with the left-behind parent acting on her/his behalf.  The Court also confirmed that the sibling of abducted children in these circumstances is a victim of a violation of the Convention.  

The AIRE Centre represented Ms Raw and her children in this case and highlighted that the French authorities did not contribute to enforce the judgment from the Cour d’Appel de Poitiers in which the Court ordered the father to return the children to the United Kingdom, their official country of residence. The AIRE Centre especially underlined that the French authorities did not take all the necessary steps to secure the return of the children in the United Kingdom after the judgment from the Cour d’Appel de Poitiers.

In their findings - as yet, only available in French and translated below - the Court ruled that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention:

83. Lastly, the Court reaffirms that effective respect for family life requires that the future relationship between parents and their children is not determined by the simple passage of time, but on the basis of all relevant factors; the Court can therefore also have regard, in relation to Article 8, to the nature and length of the decision-making process.  The Court has thus highlighted, in cases of this type, that the adequacy of the measures taken by the authorities is judged in particular according to the speed of their implementation, as the passage of time can have irreparable consequences for the relationship between children and the parent who is not living with them.  The Hague Convention furthermore provides a package of measures designed to ensure the immediate return of children removed or retained wrongfully in a Contracting State, and Article 11 of the Hague Convention makes clear that the judicial or administrative authorities seized in a case must act urgently with a view to returning the children.

The Applicants were awarded EUR 5,000 in respect of damages (plus EUR 5,500 for costs and expenses).

The AIRE Centre hopes that this decision from the Court will contribute to enforce the Hague Convention on children abduction as well as the Brussels II bis regulation. 

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