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RESIDENCE: Sobota-Gajic v Bosnia and Herzegovina

Date:6 NOV 2007

(European Court of Human Rights; 6 November 2007) The mother had been granted custody of both children following the divorce. The custody decision took 9 months to enforce in relation to the son. On the day after the son moved to the mother's home, the father abducted the child. The mother brought criminal proceedings, which for some reason remained at the preliminary stage until the father died, 2 years later. On the father's death the child lived with the paternal grandmother. The grandmother was eventually convicted of subjecting the child to psychological violence, but following the conviction it took another 10 months before the child was restored to the mother's care.

The authorities had failed to take all reasonable measures to reunite the mother with the child; the separation had lasted over 4 years. The delays had partly been caused by confusion as to who was responsible for enforcement of the various court decisions. There had been a violation of Art 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.