Human rights judges have declared that Italy’s laws on the confidentiality of information concerning a child’s origins fail to take account of the child’s interests.
In a 25 September decision in the case of Godelli v. Italy (application no. 33783/09), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned the confidentiality of information concerning a child’s birth and the inability of a person abandoned by her mother to find out about her origins.
The Court considered, among other things, that a fair balance had not been struck between the interests at stake since the legislation, in cases where the mother had opted not to disclose her identity, did not allow a child who had not been formally recognised at birth and was subsequently adopted to request either non-identifying information about his or her origins or the disclosure of the birth mother’s identity with the latter’s consent.
The applicant, Anita Godelli, is an Italian national who was born in 1943 and lives in Trieste (Italy). She was abandoned at birth by her mother, who did not agree to be identified. After being placed in an orphanage she was adopted by the Godelli family (simple adoption).
At the age of ten, after learning that she had been adopted, the applicant asked her adoptive parents to provide her with details of her origins, without success. She alleged that her childhood had been very difficult because she had not known about her roots.
Just satisfaction (Article 41)
The Court held that Italy was to pay the applicant 5,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 10,000 in respect of costs and expenses.
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