Obstruction of parental and child communication is punishable by the Court
Αneva κ.α. v. Bulgaria 06-04-2017 (no. 66997/13, 77760/14 and 50240/15)
Respect for family life. Obstruction of communication and contact with children. Three different parents appealed to the ECtHR on the grounds that they were unable to communicate with their children despite the existence of a custodial judgment or rights of communication, citing Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life ) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned three different applications where a parent had been unable to have contact with their child, despite the existence of a court judgment granting the parent custody or
The first applicant, Vladimira Aneva (born 1981), is the mother of the second applicant, Mihail Ivanov (born 2002). At the start of 2005, after Mihail Ivanov made a visit to his father, the father drove away with him instead of returning him to Ms Aneva’s home. The father has repeatedly refused to allow Ms Aneva to spend time with the child – despite this being ordered by the courts in the couple’s divorce proceedings. The third applicant, Slaveyka Kicheva (born 1972), was also granted custody of her son after she and the father separated. However, in September 2011 the father of the child refused to return him after a scheduled meeting, and since then Ms Kicheva has only seen her son on a few occasions (and always in an institutional setting). The fourth applicant, Stanimir Drumev (born 1973), was granted contact rights with his child consisting of two weekends per month and one full month in the summer holidays. However, he claims that in June 2012 his ex-wife started preventing him from having contact with his child.
Relying in particular on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Ms Aneva, Ms Kicheva and Mr Drumev complained about the prolonged impossibility to have contact with their children, despite custody and/or contact being ordered by the courts in final judgments. Ms Aneva made the same complaint on behalf of her son, the second applicant, but to the effect of him not being provided with the opportunity and conditions to have contact with his mother.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 8 – in respect of Ms. Aneva, Mr. Ivanov and Ms. Kicheva
No violation of Article 8 – in respect of Mr. Drumev
The European Court of Human Rights awarded EUR 12,000 jointly to Mrs Aneva and Mr Ivanov, and EUR 12,000 for Ms Kicheva for non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 1,910 and EUR 2,100 respectively for costs and expenses.