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Romania: Court puts family rights protection in human rights spotlight

Tomorrow, the human rights spotlight will fall on family rights protection in Romania, when Strasbourg judges reveal their decisions in two complaints.

 Alexandru Enache v. Romania (no. 16986/12)

The applicant, Alexandru Enache, is a Romanian national who was born in 1973 and lives in Bucharest.

The case concerns Enache’s conditions of detention and his complaint alleging gender-based discrimination, stemming from the fact that under Romanian legislation, only convicted mothers of children younger than one year can obtain a stay of execution of their prison sentences until their child’s first birthday.

Having been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for embezzlement, Enache was committed to prison in December 2011. He lodged an application for a stay of execution of his sentence on the basis of Article 453 § 1 of the former Code of Criminal Procedure.

The article in question (whose provisions were subsequently incorporated into Article 589 § 1 of the new Code of Criminal Procedure) permitted mothers sentenced to prison to apply for a stay of execution of their sentence until their child had reached the age of one.

The application lodged by Enache, whose child was a few months’ old at the relevant time, was dismissed on the grounds that the provision in question had to be interpreted restrictively and that he did not satisfy the statutory requirements to do so.

Furthermore, between December 2011 and September 2013 Enache was held in the Bucharest police station and in the Bucarest-Rahova, Mărgineni and Giurgiu Prisons, and he complains of his conditions of detention in them. He complains especially about prison overcrowding, damp cells and the lack of hygiene and daylight.

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Enache complains about his conditions of detention. Relying on Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), combined in substance with Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life)

and Article 1 of Protocol No. 12 to the Convention (general prohibition of discrimination), he complains that he suffered discrimination on grounds of sex as compared to female prisoners who had children under one year of age, in that he had been unable to obtain a stay of execution of his prison sentence.

 

D.M.D. v. Romania (no. 23022/13)

The applicant, D.M.D., is a Romanian national who was born in 2001 and lives in Bucharest (Romania).

The case concerns the proceedings brought against his father for domestic abuse and the courts’ failure to award him compensation.

In February 2004 the applicant’s mother called a child protection hotline to report that her husband was abusing their son. Between March and July 2004 she also complained to the police on five occasions.

After the fifth complaint, the authorities launched a criminal investigation. The prosecuting authorities heard evidence from six witnesses and examined psychological reports, which led to the indictment of the applicant’s father in December 2007.

The proceedings – spanning three levels of jurisdiction – ended in November 2012 with the father’s conviction of physical and mental abuse of his child. He was given a three-year suspended prison sentence; the length of the sentence was reduced in order to take into account the excessive length of the proceedings. D.M.D was not awarded any compensation.

The applicant’s parents divorced in September 2004 and he has remained with his mother since.

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), the applicant complains that the police, prosecutor’s office and courts failed to investigate promptly and effectively his allegations of abuse.

Further relying on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial within a reasonable time), he also complains about the excessive length of the criminal proceedings against his father and the courts’ failure to award him compensation.

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