Margareta and Roger Anderson v. Sweden

Case No. 61/1990/252/323
Download Judgment: English

Roger Anderson (son of Margareta) was taken into public care on a provisional basis. When he started school, it was found that he lacked social skills and maturity. Margareta rejected suggestions made by the Social welfare authorities. Roger stopped attending school in December 1984. Margareta and Roger moved to an address unknown to the authorities at the social welfare. Roger’s health report pointed to the fact that his mother had treated him in a mentally harmful manner and therefore the Social welfare authorities restricted contact between the Margareta and Roger. The County Administrative Court upheld the order of prohibition of access. Further appeals were dismissed. The Chairman of the Social Committee ordered for Roger to be placed in a Clinic. He absconded from there and joined his mother. Margareta reached an agreement with the Social Council that public care would continue at the Clinic and thereafter at their home. The Social Committee Chairman ordered for his return to the clinic as he had again stopped attending school, from which he again ran away. The Social Council decided that he must be placed in a foster home. Margareta appealed this decision but the appeals were dismissed. Roger was transferred to a foster home until the public care order was terminated. Before the termination of order, Roger was admitted twice in the hospital for treatment of diabetes and Margareta was not allowed to visit him.

The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention (right to private and family life). The Court held that while the limitation on access between the mother and child were in accordance with the law, and there was an existence of a legitimate aim (protection the health, morals and freedoms of children), it was not necessary in a democratic society. The Court stated that the justification of prohibiting contact for one and a half year as given by the Government were generic and did not demonstrate the necessity for such action.


“The reasons adduced by the Government are of a general nature and do not specifically address the necessity of prohibiting contact by correspondence and telephone. The Court does not doubt that these reasons were relevant. However, they do not sufficiently show that it was necessary to deprive the applicants of almost every means of maintaining contact with each other for a period of approximately one and a half years. Indeed, it is questionable whether the measures were compatible with the aim of reuniting the applicants.” (Para 96)

“Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the Court considers that the aggregate of the restrictions imposed by the social welfare authorities on meetings and communications by correspondence and telephone between the applicants was disproportionate to the legitimate aims pursued and, therefore, not "necessary in a democratic society". There has accordingly been a breach of Article 8 (art. 8).” (Para 97)