The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has upheld a claim by a Croatian woman that her rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights were breached when her newborn child was removed without her consent.
The child, now aged four, was removed from the mother’s care shortly after birth due to concerns about the mother’s living conditions and ability to care for the the baby. She lived in dilapidated housing with no heating, was unemployed and also suffered from a mild mental disability. The local social services was granted a legal order removing the mothers parental rights and she was given represented in the proceedings.
Later the mother, with legal assistance, applied for the restoration of her parental rights, saying her home and had been renovated and her living conditions had improved. Her mild mental disability was no reason to deprive her of her parental rights, she claimed.
Her claim was dismissed as her child had already been placed for adoption.
The mother appealed to the ECHR, claiming her rights under Article 8 of the Convention had been breached. Article 8 governs respect for privacy and family life.
The ECHR upheld her claim, saying the authorities should have ensured that the mother’s right were protected, including her right to appeal before the child was put up for adoption.
Photo of the Croatian flag by davesandford via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence