European court rules against Czech mother in ongoing custody battle

Eva Michaláková whose sons were removed from her care by Norwegian social services has been fighting for the children's return for years.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 10.05.2022 14:18:00 (updated on 10.05.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, May 10 (CTK) - The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Grand Chamber will not address the case of Czech woman Eva Michaláková whose sons were removed from her care by the Norwegian social service Barnevernet, a Justice Ministry spokesperson told the Czech News Agency today.

On Monday, the court rejected the mother's complaint against ECHR's January decision which said that Norwegian institutions had not violated Michaláková's and her children's rights to respect for family life, as defined in an article of the European Convention on Human Rights when they took the children away from Michalakova and her partner.

The court justified its decision, saying it was necessary to strip the mother of parental rights to prevent her from spreading sensitive information about the children in media.

Michaláková's lawyers said the ECHR's verdict came as a surprise and that her client is prepared to continue her legal battle.

The government commissioner's office said in a press release that "Following the Strasbourg court's verdict, Mrs. Michaláková has a chance to petition the Norwegian courts again to return the children into her care and establish contact with them."

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In 2011, the Norwegian Child Welfare Service (Barnevernet) ruled that the Michalák brothers, born in 2005 and 2008, be removed from their Czech parents' home on suspicion of abuse and neglect.

While no mistreatment of the children was ever proven, the court considered the findings serious enough to place them in foster care. Michaláková has been fighting for the return of her sons since then.

Later, the Norwegian authorities stripped Michaláková of access to both sons but allowed their father to retain his parental rights.

After her appeal was rejected, Michaláková turned to the European Court of Human Rights, filing a complaint against Norway, which was rejected by the court.

Parents and experts have long criticized Barnevernet for going to excessive lengths to protect children. Critics point out that the Norwegian office often takes children from their biological parents and places them in foster care without a sufficient justification. Several Barnevernet cases have been submitted to the ECHR.

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