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Odievre V France Notes

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Odievre v France [2003] 1 FCR 621 ECtHR Facts M, a French national, made use of their provisions to give birth anonymously and "abandon" the child. The child (P) later sought to find out about her natural mother and trace her, but was blocked by the French authorities and laws from doing so. Held ECtHR(maj)

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The applicant complained that she was unable to obtain identifying information about her natural family and had thereby been prevented from finding out her personal history, a breach of Art 8 o P's purpose is not to call into question her relationship with her adoptive parents but to discover the circumstances in which she was born and abandoned,
? For that reason, it considers it necessary to examine the case from the perspective of private life, not family life, since P's claim to be entitled, in the name of biological truth, to know her personal history

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is based on her inability to gain access to information about her origin and related identifying data

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The Court reiterates that although the object of Art.8 is essentially that of protecting the individual against arbitrary interference by the public authorities, it does not merely compel the State to abstain from such interference o In the Court's opinion, people "have a vital interest, protected by the Convention, in receiving the information necessary to know and to understand their childhood and early development". o In the Mikulic case, the applicant complained of the length of a paternity suit which she had brought with her mother and the lack of procedural means available under Croatian law to enable the courts to compel the alleged father to comply with a court order for DNA tests to be carried out.
? The Court weighed the vital interest of a person in receiving the information necessary to uncover the truth about an important aspect of his or her personal identity

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against the interest of third parties in refusing to be compelled to make themselves available for medical testing.

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It found that the State had a duty to establish alternative means to enable an independent authority to determine the paternity claim speedily.

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The Court observes that Mr Gaskin and Miss Mikulic were in a different situation to the applicant. The issue of access to information about one's origins and the identity of one's natural parents is not of the same nature as that of access to a case record concerning a child in care or to evidence of alleged paternity o The expression "everyone" in Art.8 of the Convention applies to both the child and the mother. On the one hand, people have a right to know their origins, that right being derived from a wide interpretation of the scope of the notion of private life. The child's vital interest in its personal development is also widely recognised in the general scheme of the Convention. 14 On the other hand, a woman's interest in remaining anonymous in order to protect her health by giving birth in appropriate medical conditions cannot be denied.
? In addition to that conflict of interest, the problem of anonymous births cannot be dealt with in isolation from the issue of the protection of third parties.

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