(Family Division, Theis J, 3 May 2013)
The Roma Slovakian family were trafficked to the UK. The parents had 10 children and five of the youngest six were subject to care proceedings due to a combination of factors including: failure to attend medical appointments, poor school attendance, neglect and over chastisement.
The parents claimed they were being discriminated against because of their heritage and sought a return of their children, four of whom were now in foster care. Or alternatively they wished for the children to be returned to Slovakia under the care of the authorities under Art 56 of BIIR. They did not seek a transfer under Art 15. The local authority sought a supervision order in relation to the oldest child who was 15 and had remained living with the parents, and care orders in relation to the younger four children with a care plan for adoption for the youngest two.
At the final hearing the Republic of Slovakia had been provided with the case bundles and while it accepted the jurisdiction of the English court it demanded that in the event that the parents could not resume care of the children, that they be returned to Slovakia and placed in State care.
The judge took into account the cultural factors and weighed the evidence of the parents but found the evidence of the local authority and the guardian to be preferred. She found the threshold had been met and that the welfare of the children required care orders.
After considering the proposal from the Slovak authorities she concluded that the move would not meet their welfare needs as the plans were uncertain with no timescales and the potential for further emotional harm given that the older two children did not wish to go and the younger two had no recollection of Slovakia.