EGMR: Forthcoming judgment on Tuesday 17 December 2019 – Abdi Ibrahim v. Norway (no. 15379/16)

The applicant, Mariya Abdi Ibrahim, is a Somali national who was born in 1993. She lives in Norway. The applicant had a son in November 2009 in Kenya and travelled to Norway in February 2010, where she was granted a temporary residence permit with refugee status. In September 2010 a parent-child institution notified the child welfare services that it was concerned that the child risked harm in the applicant’s care. He was placed in emergency foster care and in December 2010 the Country Social Welfare Board issued a care order. He was subsequently placed with a Christian family, while the applicant had argued that he go to either her cousins or to a Somali or Muslim family.

The District Court upheld the care order in September 2011, allowing the applicant contact for one hour six times a year and expressing uncertainty as to whether the care order would be long-term.

In March 2014 the Country Social Welfare Board granted a request from the child welfare services for the applicant’s parental responsibilities to be withdrawn and for the child to be adopted by the foster family. The applicant ultimately appealed to the High Court.

She did not ask for the child’s return given that he had spent so long in the care of foster parents to whom he had become attached. However, she argued that it could not be concluded that contact with her in the future would not be in the child’s best interests, particularly given his need to keep in touch with his cultural and religious roots. The High Court ruled in May 2015 to allow the adoption.

Among other things, the High Court considered the risks faced by the child, who was vulnerable and had special care needs, and that he had suffered neglect in the applicant’s care, even if that neglect could have been due to her own life situation during the pregnancy, birth and post-natal period. It also examined the issues arising from the fact that he was to be adopted by a Christian family, such as ethnicity, culture and religion.

The majority of the High Court’s bench found that there were particularly compelling reasons to allow the adoption and dismissed the applicant’s appeal. She was also refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in September 2015.

The applicant complains about the withdrawal of her parental rights and about the authorisation for adoption under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion).

Press release ECHR 426 (2019) 12.12.2019

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