ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2014.04.10

View Adopted: 2020.03.13

S.H. v. Finland

Author fails to appropriately substantiate how her claims fall within the scope of the covenant, resulting in the communication being declared inadmissible

Substantive Issues
  • Arbitrary interference with family
  • Effective remedy
  • Fair trial
  • Liberty and security of person
  • Protection of family
  • Rights of the child
  • Torture / ill-treatment
Relevant Articles
  • Article 14
  • Article 17
  • Article 23
  • Article 24
  • Article 5
  • Article 7
  • Article 9
Full Text


The author is a national of Finland who argues that Finland violated her and her children’s rights under articles 2 (3) (a), 5, 7, 9, 14, 17, 23 and 24 of the Covenant.

The author and her former partner had twins in January 2012. The author submits that the biological father subjected her to continuous and serious physical and psychological violence; that the violence mainly took place between June 2011 and April 2012, and that in some instances, his intention was to cause her to miscarry. She also submits tht for some time she was unable to leave because she did not know where to find a women’s shelter and she feared for the lives of her children and for her own life. However, on 28 April 2012 she took the children and left the apartment where they had been living. Judicial proceedings were eventually instituted concerning child custody, their place of residence and visitation rights.

On 17 July 2012, the author reported an act of violence by the father that had allegedly been committed against her to the police. On 19 September 2013, the prosecutor decided not to prosecute as there was insufficient evidence to press charges against him.

On 19 October 2013, the father started visiting the children under supervision. She author submits that the was soon once again the victim of physical violence perpetrated by him.

On 4 December 2013, the father was entrusted with sole custody of the children owing to the parental alienation conducted by the author between February and October, and a psychologist statement following an evaluation of the author indicating that the acts of violence were untrue and that her intention was to defame the father. The author unsuccessfully appealed this decision. 

On 10 April 2014, the children were put into emergency placement as the Social Services suspected that she would try to hinder the transfer of custody. The author also appealed these decisions. She was followingly informed that the children had left the orphanage and that custody had been granted to the father who lived 300 km away in a rural area. The author submits that the latter is problematic in that they would have no help available if they were victims of violence perpetrated by their father.

In light of the above, the author claims that by granting the custody of the children to the father, removing them from her house to live in an orphanage and then in her father’s house, and restricting her access to them, the State party violated her and her children’s rights under articles 7, 9, 14, 17, 23 and 24 of the Covenant.


The Committee found the communication inadmissible on the following basis:

  • The Committee ascertained that the same matter was not being examined under another procedure of international investigation or settlement. On that point it notes that matters raised before the Committee on the Rights of the Child relate to the proceedings concerning enforcement of the author’s visitation rights as of 13 September 2015, not the custody of the children or the emergency placement of 2014. In addiiton it notes that the decision issued by the European Court of Human Rights does not specify the basis for the finding of inadmissibility. Therefore, in the absence of further information on the complaint before the European Court, the Committee is not in a position to determine whether there is a violation of article 5 (2) (b).
  • It also considered that the bond between the author and her children and the nature of her claims are sufficient to justify representation of the children before the Committee by their mother.
  • It found that it was barred by a reason of lack of exhaustion of domestic remedies from considering questions of visitation rights since these issues are still pending on appeal.
  • It also found that the author’s claims under article 5 were inadmissible due to it relating to general undertakings by State parties rather than as a self-sustaining ground for a communication.
  • In relation to the author’s claims under articles 18 and 19 (2) the Committee found that these were not sufficiently substantiated for the purposes of admission.
  • The Committee found that the author had failed to sufficiently substantiate how her claims relating to the emergency placement of the children in an orphanage in order to enforce a custody order amount to an arbitrary deprivation of liberty or risk to the security of the person within the meaning of article 9
  • The Committee also found that the author had failed to sufficiently substantiate her claims under articles 17, 23, and 24 as she had not substantiated how and on what aspects the oral hearing at the time of administrative proceeding would have had an impact on child custody and place of residence given that these had already been decided before the emergency placement decision.  

The Committee therefore decides that the communication is inadmissible.


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