As the Agent of the Slovak Republic before the ECtHR, who for a long time observes and criticises cases concerning child removal from the care of biological parents without relevant reasons and adoptions without consent of parents in some of the Council of Europe member states, I welcome the judgment of the Grand Chamber in the case of Strand Lobben. The ECtHR confirmed its existing case-law primarily protecting a biological family and according to which family ties should be maintained, except in cases where it is absolutely inappropriate for a child. In this respect the ECtHR recognises that the states enjoy a wide margin of appreciation, but it is not unlimited. The ECtHR attaches importance to whether the domestic authorities tried to apply other, less severe, preventive and supportive measures before taking a child into care and whether they proved to be unsuccessful. Another principle preserved by the judgment of the Grand Chamber is that taking a child into care should be regarded as a temporary measure, to be discontinued as soon as circumstances permitted, and any measure of implementation should be consistent with the ultimate aim of reuniting the natural parent with his or her child. The necessity to maintain those principles was pointed out in the interventions of the Government of the Slovak Republic and the Government of the Czech Republic.
On the contrary, the respondent Norway, as well the intervening governments of Italy, Denmark and the United Kingdom stated that in such cases the ECtHR should not act as a fourth instance and reassess the facts. The ECtHR did so and came to a conclusion that there has been a violation of applicants' rights.
I further remind that the Slovak Republic used the possibility under Article 36 § 2 of the Convention and intervened besides the case of Strand Lobben also in cases K. O. a V. M. v. Norway and Bodnariu and others v. Norway. On 17 June 2019 other 16 applications concerning the mentioned problem were communicated to the Norwegian Government. The Slovak Republic requested permission to intervene in all 16 cases. In case the ECtHR allows the interventions, the Slovak Republic will continue to support the current case-law of the ECtHR primarily protecting biological family, from which the ECtHR did not depart in the case of Strand Lobben.
Lecture delivered by JUDr. Marica Pirošíková, Agent of the Government of the Slovak Republic before the ECHR at the NKMR/NCHR Symposium, in Gothenburg, September 5, 2015
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