Rights Group says youngster custody reforms in Greece are too dangerous Archive, Greece, Basic Information
ΑΤΗΕΝS – Proposed legislation in Greece to give divorced parents an equal say in child-rearing neglects how it could endanger women and children and victims of domestic violence, Human Rights Watch said.
The move was unveiled by the ruling New Democracy, which controls parliament, which is likely to vote this month on warnings from activists who said it could lead to lengthy legal battles over exemptions.
“The proposed changes violate international law that custody decisions must be based on an assessment of the best interests of the individual child and not adequately protect victims of domestic abuse and their children,” the group said.
While the presumption of joint custody welcomes the idea of joint parenting, “it ignores the dangerous reality for victims of domestic abuse – mostly women – and their children,” said Hillary Margolis, senior women’s rights researcher at HRW.
“The Greek parliament should prioritize the safety of children and victims of abuse and oppose these alarming changes,” she said, noting that similar criticism of possible shortcomings was raised during a public consultation.
This came from the Hellenic Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Family Rights Society, the Greek National Human Rights Commission, the Legal Committee on Legal Custody Issues, the Equal Opportunities Organization Diotima and Refugee Support Aegean.
The proposed changes would allow the courts to restrict parental communication with a child when that right is “poorly or abusively” exercised, or to revoke custody when a parent is unable to perform their duties or when that function is abused to execute.
However, the decisions must be final or issued by the Supreme Court. This process can take years during which a suspected abusive parent can maintain custody and communication with the child and co-parent, HRW said.
The group also said that in cases of “imminent threat” to a child’s mental and physical health, a prosecutor can take immediate protective measures and then have 90 days to bring the case to court without realizing the parent’s abuse .
The law’s provisions would also violate the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Greece in 1983, HRW also said.
“A law that could force people to withstand continued domestic abuse is not in anyone’s best interests,” said Margolis. “The Greek government should recognize the risks women and children face in their own families and ensure that custody cannot be used as another weapon,” she added.