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Reforms after children were taken away from their parents because they were poor

Wallová and Walla v. the Czech Republic  | 2006

Reforms after children were taken away from their parents because they were poor

The court considers that the reasons given by the national authorities and courts ... were not sufficient to justify this serious interference with the applicants' family life

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, 26th October 2006 - © Photo Aktualne.cz

Background

Emílie Wallová and Jaroslav Walla had five children. The authorities took the children away and placed them in children’s homes, saying that the parents did not have enough money to look after them properly.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The court said that separating a family is a drastic measure that should only be applied in the most serious of cases. The Czech authorities should have used other measures, such as giving the parents advice on how to improve their situation. However, no serious efforts were made to help the parents. Taking the children away in such circumstances had breached the parents’ right to family life.

Follow-up

New legislation introduced a ban on putting children in institutional care just because of the financial situation of their parents. Legal changes also introduced new methods for social workers, and required courts to always consider less severe alternatives to institutional care. National strategies were adopted to help better support children at risk and improve the care for vulnerable children.