Bajrami v. Albania (Application no. 35853/04)

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

Share THIS:



The application related to a child born in January 1997 to a Kosovan father and an Albanian mother. The spouses separated in 1998 and the mother took the child to the maternal grandparents’ home in Albania. On 6 May 1999, using forged documents, the mother remarried, although not divorced from the father.
On 15 September 1999 the Vlora District Court (Albania) annulled the mother’s second marriage. On an unspecified date she married an Albanian national who resided in Greece. During the years that followed the mother’s third marriage, she frequently travelled to Greece, leaving the child for long periods with the grandparents in Vlora, or taking her to Greece without the father’s consent.
The mother and her parents prohibited the father from having contact with the child. Since the separation the father was permitted to see the child only twice, in September 2000 and May 2003.
On 26 June 2003 the father requested the Vlora Police District to block his daughter’s passport in view of the fact that the mother was planning to take her to Greece without his consent. Nevertheless the mother took the child to Greece on 15 January 2004, using an official certificate in which the child had been registered in the mother’s surname.
On 15 December 2003 the father initiated criminal proceedings against a Civil Status Office employee. He accused her of falsifying various documents that had enabled the mother to remove the child from Albania. On 26 January 2004 the Vlora District Court decided to discontinue the proceedings.
On 4 February 2004 the Vlora District Court granted custody of the child to the father, having regard to the wife’s lack of interest in the child’s life, the instability of her residential arrangements and her long periods of separation from the child. On 19 March the custody decision became final.
On 5 April the Vlora District Court issued a writ for the enforcement of the Vlora District Court’s judgment of 4 February 2004. On 13 July the Vlora Bailiffs’ Office informed the father that it was impossible to enforce the judgment since the child was not in Albania. On 14 August 2004 the father initiated criminal proceedings with the Vlora District Court against his former wife, accusing her of child abduction.
On 15 August 2004 and 13 January 2005 the father applied to the Albanian Ministry of Justice to secure the return of his daughter. On 27 September 2004 the father filed a petition with the ECrtHR. On 13 October 2004 the Vlora District Court informed the Albanian Ombudsperson that no lawsuit had been filed with it relating to the abduction of the father’s daughter.
On 11 January 2005, when questioned by the bailiffs, the mother’s father declared that the mother and the child were living abroad and that he had no news of their whereabouts. The bailiffs went to the mother’s home on three occasions between January 2005 and May 2005.
In May 2005 the Selenice District Police Station informed the bailiffs that the mother and the child were not living in Athens and that the mother’s father had moved to an unknown address in Tirana. In July 2005 the Bailiffs’ Office informed the father that in order to comply with the bilateral agreement between Albania and Greece (1993 Bilateral Agreement on Mutual Assistance in Civil and Criminal Matters between Greece and Albania) he had to introduce a request and specify the precise address of the child in Greece.
The father sent numerous requests to the Albanian authorities, the Greek Embassy in Albania, the Ombudsperson of Albania (Avokati i Popullit) and the Ombudsperson of Kosovo, in order to obtain assistance in securing the enforcement of the custody decision. On 31 March 2006 the Vlora Court of Appeal repealed the custody judgment of 4 February 2004 on the grounds that the mother had not been duly informed of the custody proceedings.
The case was remitted to the Vlora District Court for a re-hearing. The father stated that he had not been informed of these developments.