Sunday, March 25, 2018

European Court Upholds Germany's Removal of Children From Religious Sect Parents

Last week in the cases of Tlapak and Others v. Germany and Wetjen and Others v. Germany, (ECHR, March 22, 2018), the European Court of Human Rights in Chamber Judgments upheld the action of a German Family Court against claims by four families asserting their Article 8 Convention right to respect for private and family life.  A press release from the European Court described last week's decisions:
The cases concerned the partial withdrawal of parental authority and the taking into care of children belonging to the Twelve Tribes Church (Zwölf Stämme), living in two communities in Bavaria (Germany). In 2012 the press reported that church members punished their children by caning. The reports were subsequently corroborated by video footage of caning filmed with a hidden camera in one of the communities. Based on these press reports, as well as statements by former members of the church, the children living in the communities were taken into care in September 2013 by court order. The proceedings before the European Court have been brought by four families who are members of the Twelve Tribes Church. They complain about the German courts’ partial withdrawal of their parental authority and the splitting up of their families.
The Court agreed with the German courts that the risk of systematic and regular caning of children justified withdrawing parts of the parents’ authority and taking the children into care. Their decisions had been based on a risk of inhuman or degrading treatment, which is prohibited in absolute terms under the European Convention.
Chamber judgments may be appealed to the Grand Chamber.