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Case of a mother separated from her child

Iglesias Gil and A.U.I. v. Spain  | 2003

Case of a mother separated from her child

...Article 8 includes a right for parents to measures that will enable them to be reunited with their children and an obligation on the national authorities to take such measures...

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, 29th July 2003

Background

María Iglesias Gil gave birth to a baby boy. The father was her former husband. Ms Iglesias Gil was given custody of the child, whilst the father was granted access. However, the father abducted the boy and took him to the United States.

Ms Iglesias Gil asked the courts to issue an international search and arrest warrant for the father, so that she could regain custody of her son. However, the courts refused to do so and closed the case. 

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

Under international law, the United States authorities would have been obliged to help with the return of the child had they been asked. However, the Spanish authorities had failed to make the request. This breached Ms Iglesias Gil’s right to family life and the return of her child.

Follow-up

Spanish law was changed after the Strasbourg court agreed to review the case. Child abduction was classified as a more serious crime, so that courts can now issue international arrest warrants for people who take children away from their lawful parents. 

The father in this case brought the child back to Spain from the USA for a visit. With police help, Ms Iglesias Gil managed to get her son back.