Next week, human rights judges will deliver their decisions in a transatlantic child custody battle, an Icelandic strip club defamation dispute and a drug smuggler’s plea against his conviction.
B v. Belgium (no. 4320/11)
The applicants, Mrs J.B. and Ms A.B., are Belgian nationals who were born in 1975 and 2003 respectively and live in Ostend. In 2001 J.B. got to know an American in the United States, where she had lived since the age of three.
They had a daughter, A.B., born on 5 September 2003, and she has dual Belgian and American citizenship. The case concerns the decison of Gand Court of Appeal ordering the child to be returned to the United States after the mother had left the country with her daughter to set up home in Belgium. Relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), the applicants complain that sending A.B. back to the United States would deprive her of her mother and place her in an “intolerable situation” within the meaning of Article 13 (b) of the Hague Convention. They also allege a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 4 (prohibition of expulsion of nationals).
The European Court of Human Rights has indicated an interim measure to the Belgian Government not to send the child back to the United States (Rule 39 of the Rules of Court). The measure is valid for the duration of the proceedings before the Court.
Björk Eidsdottir v. Iceland (no. 46443/09) Erla Hlynsdottir v. Iceland (no. 43380/10)
The applicants, Björk Eidsdottir and Erla Hlynsdottir, are two Icelandic nationals who were born in 1974 and 1978, and live in Reykjavík. Both of them are journalists, working respectively for a weekly magazine and for a newspaper. They were both found liable for defamation in 2009: Ms Eidsdottir for an article published in 2007 which concerned the working conditions in a strip club called “Goldfinger”, and Ms Hlynsdottir for a news report published in 2009 concerning an alleged assault at another strip club called “Strawberries”.
Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression), the two applicants complain about the outcome of the ensuing defamation proceedings against them.
Vidgen v. the Netherlands (no. 29353/06)
The applicant, Nicholas Otto Vidgen, is a British national who was born in 1958 and, as far as the Court is aware, lives in London (the United Kingdom). He was found guilty of transporting, together with others, from the Netherlands to Germany with the intention of ultimately shipping them to Australia, psychotropic substances the trade of which is illegal in all three countries. Relying on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) and Article 6 § 3 (d) (right to obtain attendance and examination of witnesses), he complains that his criminal conviction was based solely or to a decisive extent on the statements of a witness whom he had been unable to examine.