Article 24 - The rights of the child
Key facts of the case:
1) The case concerns the procedure for the return of a child to Switzerland, his habitual country of residence, which he left with his mother, in application of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and the applicant’s complaint that the Hungarian courts’ decision rejecting that return had breached his right to respect for his family life within the meaning of Article 8 of the Convention.
Outcome of the case:
For these reasons, the Court
49) The Court reiterates that there is a broad consensus – including in international law – in support of the idea that in all decisions concerning children, their best interests must be paramount. The same philosophy is inherent in the Hague Convention, which associates this interest with restoration of the status quo by means of a decision ordering the child’s immediate return to his or her country of habitual residence in the event of unlawful abduction, while taking account of the fact that non-return may sometimes prove justified for objective reasons that correspond to the child’s interests, thus explaining the existence of exceptions, specifically in the event of a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation (Article 13, first paragraph, (b)). The Court further notes that the European Union subscribes to the same philosophy, in the framework of a system involving only European Union member States and based on a principle of mutual trust. The Brussels II bis Regulation, whose rules on child abduction supplement those already laid down in the Hague Convention, likewise refers in its Preamble to the best interests of the child, while Article 24 § 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights emphasises that in all actions relating to children the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration exceptions (see X v. Latvia, cited above, § 97).