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 his family life, in so far as a court decision dismissed his request for the return of his infant child to Italy, where the applicant resides and where he and his wife lived when the child was born in March 2017. The Bucharest Court of Appeal refused to order the return on the grounds that the child could not be considered to have her habitual residence in that country.
Outcome of the case:
For these reasons, the Court, unanimously,
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts:
(i) EUR 7,500 (seven thousand five hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 4,225 (four thousand two hundred and twenty-five euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement, simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period, plus three percentage points;
37) In all decisions concerning children, their best interests must be paramount (ibid., § 96, as well as 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 42 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, § 97, cited above).