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Maire v Portugal ,   (48206/99) (ECHR) [2004] 2 F.L.R. 653, 26 June 2003

Facts:   The applicant is the father of a child and an order had been made that the child should reside with the applicant after the divorce proceedings, the mother only having interim custody. The child was abducted from France to Portugal by the mother. The applicant unsuccessfully applied to the Portuguese courts to take steps to return his child, and was separated from him during four years.

Complaint: the applicant claimed that the Portuguese courts violated article 8 of the European Convention by failing to return the child.

Holding: the Portuguese authorities had failed to take adequate steps to enforce the applicant's right to have his child returned.

Reasoning: Relying on its holding in Ignaccolo-Zenide v. Romana , the ECHR held that Article 8 included a parent's right to the taking of measures to reunite the parent and the child and an obligation on the national authorities to take such measures. Even if the delay was caused by the mother's behaviour, there was no justification why the Portuguese authorities had failed to make her appear and had not taken sanctions against her.  


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