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Court backs parents in Bulgaria human rights breach

Human rights judges have ruled that Bulgaria breached human rights law in the case of 15 children who died at a care home because of a lack of food, heating and basic care.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Nencheva and Others v. Bulgaria (application no. 48609/06), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

A violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights

Fifteen children and young adults died between 15 December 1996 and 14 March 1997 in a home for physically and mentally disabled young people in the village of Dzhurkovo, from the effects of cold and shortages of food, medicines and basic necessities.

The manager of the home, observing the problems, had tried without success on several occasions to alert all the public institutions which had direct responsibility for funding the home and which could have been expected to act.

The court found a violation of Article 2 in that the authorities had failed in their duty to protect the lives of the vulnerable children placed in their care from a serious and immediate threat. The authorities had also failed to conduct an effective official investigation into the deaths, occurring in highly exceptional circumstances.

Just satisfaction (Article 41)

The court held that Bulgaria was to pay 10,000 euros (EUR) each to the applicants Georgi Vasilev Georgiev and Fani Filipova Evtimova in respect of non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 2,000 in respect of costs and expenses into the account of the Association for European Integration and Human Rights.

As to the remaining applicants, the court considered that the present judgment constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage alleged.

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