Case law concerning child protection
The Court's Press Service has compiled Factsheets by theme on the Court’s case-law and pending cases.
These factsheets are available on the Court's website (www.echr.coe.int/ECHR/EN/Header/Press/Information+sheets/Factsheets)
We summarized some of them for our readers and recommend to visit the Court's website on these topics.
Corporal punishment by authorities
A 15-year-old boy was subjected to judicial corporal punishment for assault of a senior pupil at his school and was required to take off his underpants and then held down by two police officers while a third police officer struck him three times with a birch.
The European Court of Human Rights considered such punishment to be “institutionalised violence”, in violation of Article 3.
ECHR, 25.4.1978, Tyrer v. United Kingdom (no. 5856/72)
Corporal punishment by parents
A 9-year-old boy was caned several times by his step-father. His step-father was tried for assault but acquitted, as English law at the time allowed for a defence of “reasonable punishment”.
The European Court of Human Rights considered that children and other vulnerable individuals in particular were entitled to protection, in the form of effective deterrence, from such forms of ill-treatment and found a violation of Article 3 as English law did not adequately protect the boy.
ECHR, 23.9.1998, A. v. United Kingdom (no. 25599/94)
- Risk of abuse in child care
Two children born in 1987 and 1994 were placed by court order in a children’s home, where – as the national court was aware – two of the principal leaders and co-founders had been convicted of sexual abuse of three handicapped people in their care. Prior to his placement in the home, the eldest boy had been a victim of sexual abuse by a paedophile social worker.
The European Court of Human Rights found that the two leaders played a “very active role” in the care of the two children and that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention, concerning the uninterrupted placement of the boys.
ECHR, 13.7.2000, Scozzari and Giunta v. Italy (nos 39221/98 & 41963/98)
- Domestic violence & abuse
Four very young children were only taken into care four-and-a-half years after concerns about their family were reported to social services. The children, during that time, suffered physical and psychological injuries.
The European Court of Human Rights found that the system in place failed to protect the children and that there was no effective remedy, in violation of Articles 3 and 13 (right to an effective remedy).
E.C.H.R., 10.5.2001, Z and Others v. United Kingdom (no. 29392/95)
- Ill-treatment by police
A 12-year-old boy was beaten by police officers to induce him to confess to stealing money from his employer. A stay of execution was ordered concerning the convictions of the police officers responsible and they were later promoted.
The European Court of Human Rights found a violation of Article 3 concerning the impunity of the police officers and the absence of special protection for a minor.
E.C.H.R, 17.10.2006, Okkali v. Turkey (no. 52067/99)
- Children in court
Two boys, aged 11, were tried in public over three weeks in an adult court – with extremely high levels of press and public interest – for the murder of a toddler which they had committed aged 10. They were convicted of murder.
The European Court of Human Rights found that the boys did not have a fair trial, in violation of Article 6§1 : a child charged with an offence had to be dealt with in a way which took full account of her/his age, level of maturity and intellectual and emotional capacities.
The European Court of Human Rights found no violation of Article 3 either concerning the applicants’ age (there was no clear common standard in Europe on the minimum age of criminal responsibility) or the length and public nature of the trial. Measures taken following the judgment.
E.C.H.R, 16.12.1999, T. v. United Kingdom & and V v. United Kingdom (nos. 24724/94 & 24888/94)
- Children in detention
A 16-year-old was held in pre-trial detention for almost four months before being released.
Having particular regard to the fact that the applicant was a minor at the relevant time, the European Court of Human Rights found a violation of Article 5 § 3 (right to liberty and security).
E.C.H.R., 10.1.2006, Selçuk v. Turkey (no. 21768/02)