ECHR: Russia’s policy to refuse adoptions to Americans is discriminatory

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Europe’s human rights court (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday that Russia’s policy to refuse adoptions to Americans is discriminatory and ordered the country to pay damages to 45 Americans who filed the case.

In a unanimous decision, a seven judge panel, which included one Russian judge, awarded about €3,500 in damages to each pair of couples that had their adoption applications denied by Russia between 2010 and 2012.

In a statement released after the ruling, Russia’s Ministry of Justice said its US adoption ban is within international legal guidelines and it plans to appeal the decision.

Adoptions stopped in 2013

“The Russian authorities have proceeded and are proceeding on the basis of the need to ensure effective protection of the interests of children and also of the legal rights and the interests of potential adopters who are citizens of Russia,” the statement said.

Russia stopped allowing adoptions by Americans in 2013 in response to US sanctions placed on the country following the death in prison of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009.

Safety concerns cited

Moscow said it banned adoptions in the US due to safety concerns after Russian media outlets reported abuse of adopted Russian children by US families.

The judges, however, noted in their ruling that Russia and the US signed an agreement in 2012 that guarantees against the mistreatment of adopted children.

Many of the 27 children blocked from being adopted by Americans since the law took effect have serious medical conditions that could be better treated in the US.