Czech Republic: Paternity test ‘father’ makes human rights appeal against DNA evidence ban

A man hopes Strasbourg judges will back his human rights complaint against Czech authorities who stopped him using DNA evidence to overturn a 1970 child paternity decision.

The European Court of Human rights  will announce its decision in the complaint Novotný v. the Czech Republic (no. 16314/13) on Thursday 7 June.

The applicant, František Novotný, is a Czech national who was born in 1942 and lives in Batelov (the Czech Republic).

The case concerns his failed legal efforts to use new DNA evidence to overturn a 1970 court decision on his paternity of a child.

A woman with whom the applicant had had a sexual relationship gave birth to a daughter in 1966.

The District Court established that Novotný was the father, relying on witness evidence, the dates of his sexual relationship with the woman and a blood test that was in use at the time.

Another man had also had sex with her, but the blood test established that he was not the father.

The applicant took up the case again in 2011 and asked the prosecutor general to use his powers to challenge the paternity decision in court. The prosecutor refused, saying, among other things, that it was not in the best interests of the daughter, by then an adult.

DNA tests in 2012 confirmed that the applicant was not the father. Nevertheless, the prosecutor and the domestic courts relied on the principle of res judicata and refused to allow him to initiate proceedings to overturn the 1970 paternity decision.

The applicant complains under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) that he was not able to challenge the paternity decision and that the denial of that possibility was a violation of his rights under Article 6 § 1 (access to court). He also alleges discrimination under Article 14 (prevention of discrimination) in conjunction with the other two articles.

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