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Ignaccolo-Zenide v. Romania : (31679/96) [2000] ECHR 25 (25 January 2000)

Facts:   The applicant was divorced from her husband. A judgment declared that the two children of the marriage were held to live with her. After the children spent their holidays with their father in the US, he refused to return them to the applicant. After changing addresses several times, he managed to flee to Romania. The Bucharest Court of First Instance issued an injunction requiring the children to be returned to the applicant. However, her efforts to have the injunction enforced proved unsuccessful.

Complaint: The applicant complained that the failure of the Romanian authorities to enforce the injunction issued by the Bucharest Court of First Instance on 14 December 1994 constituted a breach of her right to respect for her family life, as guaranteed under Article 8 of the Convention

Holding: The Court found a violation of Article 8.

Reasoning: After the assessment that the relationship between the applicant and her daughters amounted to "family life" within the sense of Article 8 ECHR, the Court repeated that there may be positive obligations inherent in the "respect for family life." It was for the national authorities to strike a fair balance between the conflicting interests of the individual and the society as a whole. In doing so, the State had a certain amount of discretion. Article 8 ECHR contains the right of a parent to obtain measures aiming at uniting parent and child and the duty of national authorities to take such measures. The Court found that the Romanian authorities had failed to take adequate and sufficient steps to comply with the applicant's right to the return of her children and had thus infringed her right to respect for her family life, as guaranteed by Article 8. The Court therefore concluded that there had been a violation of Article 8


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