The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay damages to American families whose adoptions were abruptly halted in the 2012 ban by Russia as a “retaliation for United States sanctions against Russian officials accused of rights abuses.” Tuesday’s ruling unanimously declared the ban “had unlawfully discriminated against the prospective parents” and “had prevented the adoption of Russian children by the U.S. applicants purely on the basis of the prospective parents’ nationality.”
Russia’s Parliament instituted the ban in 2012 as a response to reports of alleged abuse and neglect by American parents. This case was filed with the European Court of Human Rights by 45 American families who were in the final stages of their adoptions. It is believed that as many as 200 families, who had already met their prospective children and formed relationships with them, were forced to abandon their adoption proceedings. The court has ruled that Russia pay each of the prospective American families in the amount of $3,200 in damages and $600 in legal fees.
Yelena B. Mizulina, a Russian senator, said on Tuesday that the decision is “a brazen interference into Russia’s internal affairs.” She went on to say in a statement that “Russia’s Constitutional Court will check to what extent this ruling corresponds to the Russian Constitution and our legislation.” Many believe that Russia also intends to ignore the European court’s ruling altogether based upon a 2015 ruling by the Constitutional Court of Russia that said the country’s constitution takes precedence over European’s court rulings.
This story is certainly not over and the developments will be followed closely by the international adoption community.