The European Court of Human Rights allowed a Nigerian woman living in Spain to keep in touch with her son. The woman had fought for the right to visit her child regularly and for the suspension of his adoption for a few years. At that time, the Nigerian obtained approval to stay in Spain and found a job. The Court recognised the complaint filed by the woman due to the violation of her right to respect for family life.
At the end of 2008, the Nigerian bore a son. The mother struggled with a difficult personal situation – when her son was two months’ old, she put him in a shelter for orphans, stressing that she still wanted to keep in touch with him. After a couple of months, the Spanish Directorate for Family suspended the woman’s right to regular visits. In spite of the mother’s explicit objection, the institution also started an adoption procedure.
The woman spent the next five years in courtrooms, appealing to further instances, with a request for the restoration of her right to visit her child and the suspension of the adoption procedure. In the course of the proceedings, the Nigerian showed the will to stabilise her life: she fulfilled the requirements for a temporary permission to stay in Spain, she took part in a Spanish social integration programme, and she found a job. In 2014, the court temporarily suspended the adoption of the child, but a year later it changed its position and allowed the boy to be adopted by a new family, despite the mother’s objection.
In 2016, the woman filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, claiming the violation of her right to respect for family life guaranteed in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court recognised the Nigerian woman’s complaint. The ECHR stressed that separating a child from its biological mother and giving it up for adoption should be treated as a last resort, when the implementation of less radical measures is not possible. However, the Spanish authorities isolated the child from its mother already after three months and did not make any real attempts to renew the relationship between them for the next few years.
“This sentence is good news for all families treated unjustly by social welfare officers. The Court once again reminds us that the child’s bond with its biological parents is an undeniable and objective value. Social welfare offices often ignore this value and, as such, prefer solving family problems by transferring a child from its natural family to an adoptive family. This should be done only as a last resort, as the Court rightly stated. Every parent has the right to a second chance, and the state should make an attempt to help improve family relations before deciding to break them off completely,” emphasised Karolina Pawłowska, Director of the Centre of International Law of the Ordo Iuris Institute.
Case of Omorefe v. Spain, ECHR’s decision of 23 June 2020
· In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of discussion about how to overcome the demographic crisis.
· Many commentators see solutions to the problem in political and social programs.
· The Ordo Iuris Institute and Collegium Intermarium are organizing an international scientific conference to present the cultural aspects of the demographic crisis and possible measures in this area to improve the situation.
· The Council of the European Union has decided on the signing and provisional application of the Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States. The EU is expected to sign the Agreement itself in the coming months.
· Two Norwegians have been detained and questioned by police in Warsaw, in connection with a European Arrest Warrant issued by Norwegian authorities.
· The reason for the Norwegian children's agency Barnevernet's interest in the family was allegations of the mother's alleged addiction, which would endanger the daughter for whom she has custody.
·The Hague Conference on Private International Law has been working for several years to legally regulate parental rights in cases of surrogacy
· In a prepared report, experts stress that in some countries, surrogacy users have difficulty obtaining the child's citizenship and parental rights
· Experts suggest developing an international instrument recognizing foreign court decisions on parentage and unifying regulations