Article 24 - The rights of the child
Key facts of the case:
1) The application concerns an alleged infringement of the applicant’s right to respect for her family life, in so far as a court decision ordered her children’s return to France, where they used to live before moving to Romania and where their father still lived. The applicant alleged that those proceedings had not taken full account of the French court decisions establishing the children’s residence as being with her, nor of the grave risk to which the children would be exposed if returned to their father, who had been violent towards her in the past.
Outcome of the case:
For these reasons, the Court, unanimously,
52) In all decisions concerning children, their best interests must be paramount (ibid., § 96; see also Strand Lobben and Others v. Norway [GC], no. 37283/13, § 204, 10 September 2019). 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 (see paragraph 41 above), 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 (see X v. Latvia, cited above, § 97).