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Terna v. Italy, No. 21052/18, ECHR (First Section), 14 January 2021

Terna v. Italy, No. 21052/18, ECHR (First Section), 14 January 2021

In the decision Terna v. Italy, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled on the appeal filed by an Italian woman married to a man of Roma origin, who complained about the violation of Articles 8, 13 and 14 of the Convention for not having been able to exercise her right of visitation towards her niece, whom she had been taking care of since her birth and whose parents had been declared deprived of parental authority.

Ms. Terna and her husband had been sentenced on several occasions to imprisonment for drug trafficking and human trafficking, and this circumstance, together with the lack of parental skills and the extremely difficult financial situation, led the Juvenile Court to place the child in a foster family and/or in a children's home, while still ensuring visitation rights and continuous contact with Ms. Terna. From that moment on, Ms. Terna had constantly made requests to arrange meetings, but, despite the favourable decisions of the Court, she had never been able to exercise her visitation right, until the Juvenile Court decided to suspend such right, accepting the guardian's fears of a possible kidnapping of the child by her Roma family and then ordered her adoption.

Since on two occasions the Tribunal had ordered the social services to arrange meetings (while keeping the location of the children's home secret) and this order was never complied with by the social services, the ECHR held that the national authorities had not taken adequate and sufficient efforts to ensure that Ms. Terna's visitation right was satisfied, thus violating the applicant's right to respect for her family life, protected by Article 8 of the Convention.

On the contrary, the Court did not consider the violation of art. 14 of the Convention to be subsistent since the judges excluded that the decisions of the Tribunal were based on the ethnic origin of the child's family.


(Comment by Nadia Spadaro)