AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

                       Application No. 12495/86
                       by Benny JONSSON
                       against Sweden


        The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private
on 7 December 1987, the following members being present:

              MM. C.A. NØRGAARD, President
                  J.A. FROWEIN
                  S. TRECHSEL
                  G. SPERDUTI
                  E. BUSUTTIL
                  G. JÖRUNDSSON
                  A.S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                  A. WEITZEL
                  J.-C. SOYER
                  H.G. SCHERMERS
                  H. DANELIUS
                  G. BATLINER
             Mrs.  G.H. THUNE
             Sir  Basil HALL
             MM.  F. MARTINEZ
                  C.L. ROZAKIS
             Mrs.  J. LIDDY

             Mr.  H.C. KRÜGER Secretary to the Commission

        Having regard to Article 25 of the Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

        Having regard to the application introduced on 14 September
1986 by Benny Jonsson against Sweden and registered on 24 October 1986
under file N° 12495/86;

        Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 40 of the
Rules of Procedure of the Commission;

        Having deliberated;

        Decides as follows:

THE FACTS

        The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be
summarised as follows.

        The applicant is a Swedish citizen, born in 1952.  He resides
at Märsta, Sweden.

        The applicant is the father of a boy, born in 1977.  The
applicant was never married to the mother and has never had custody
over the child.  The relationship between the mother and the applicant
broke up before the child was born and after his birth problems arose
as to the applicant's access to his son.  He instituted proceedings
before the District Court (tingsrätt) of Stockholm on 11 September
1978 in order to obtain access to his son.  He also requested the
District Court to grant access on an interim basis until the Court had
settled the dispute.  On 20 December 1978 the District Court rejected
the request for interim measures and decided to adjourn the examination
of the case in order to obtain from the social authorities information
as to the child's situation.

        In their report of 8 May 1980 the social authorities expressed
the view that there would be no reason to refuse the applicant access
to his son.  However, due to the problems between the parents
themselves, it was advised that such access should, for a certain
period of time, be supervised by a third person.

        On the basis of this report the parties reached a settlement
by which the applicant obtained access to his son during periods set
out in the settlement.  On 24 September 1980 the District Court
endorsed the settlement on the terms agreed upon by the parties.

        It appears that the settlement did not solve the problems and
both parties apparently blamed each other for violating the agreement
reached.  On 5 October 1981 the mother instituted proceedings in the
District Court in order to have the applicant's access to his son
reduced.  During the Court's preliminary examination of the case the
parties reached a new settlement in which specific access rights were
set out.  On request of the parties the settlement was endorsed by the
District Court on 19 November 1981.

        The problems between the parents had not, however, ceased to
exist.  The applicant maintains that he was effectively barred from
seeing his son, for which reason he instituted enforcement proceedings
in the County Administrative Court (länsrätten) of Stockholm on
18 February 1982 in order to make the mother comply with the settlement
of 19 November 1981.  However, during a hearing in court on 22 April
1982 the parties reached a new settlement which was endorsed by the
County Administrative Court on 9 July 1982.  The Court accordingly
dismissed the case.

        This third settlement apparently did not solve the problems
either.  On 20 June 1983 the applicant again instituted enforcement
proceedings in the County Administrative Court in order to make the
mother comply with the settlement of 19 November 1981.  The County
Administrative Court, however, decided to adjourn the examination of
the case since the mother in the meantime had instituted proceedings
in the District Court in order to terminate the applicant's access to
the child.

        On 28 September 1983 the District Court decided on an interim
basis to terminate the applicant's access to his son.  It was
furthermore decided to obtain a report from the Social District
Council No. 3 (sociala distriktsnämnden 3) in Södertälje as to the
applicant's access rights to his son.

        In its report which was submitted to the District Court on 24
May 1985 the Social Council recommended that the District Court should
terminate the applicant's access to the child because such access
would not be in the interest of the child.  In its report the Social
Council concluded inter alia:

"From the examination it appears that (the child's) parents
separated before he was born and after having known each
other for a short period.  According to (the mother) they
separated due to (the applicant's) need to control her.
Since he furthermore maltreated her she decided to leave him
despite the fact that she was expecting their child.
According to (the applicant) it was the mother's parents who
ruined their relationship.  When (the applicant), at the
time of the child's birth, threatened to kill (the mother),
she was advised by two social workers whom she had contacted
to go and live with her parents for a while.  In December
1978 (the applicant) applied to the District Court of
Stockholm for access to his son.  An examination was carried
out by the Family Rights Section (Familjerättssektionen) in
Stockholm.  The person in charge of the examination got the
impression that both parties were locked in their views and
it was difficult to influence them.  It was questioned
whether they could co-operate.  It was questioned whether
the father could cope with meeting the boy alone and the
father's proposals, to pick up the boy outside a specific
place, indicated an unrealistic view of children and their
needs.  The father had clearly stated that he could not
accept the presence of a third person when he met with his
son.

Having regard to the negative views which the father had of
the mother and his wish that the child should be placed in a
foster home there was a risk that (the child) would be left
in a difficult situation when together with his father.  The
person in charge of the examination also questioned whether
the mother had the psychical strength to cope with the
burdens a specific access right definitely would entail.  It
was therefore suggested that the Social Council of Stockholm
should propose to the District Court that it would not be in
the interest of (the child) that the father got an access
right.  However, the Social Council of Stockholm decided on 8
May 1980 to propose that (the applicant) should have access
to (the child) supervised by a third person.  Subsequently
the question of access has been dealt with by the District
Court of Stockholm in 1980 and 1981 in the form of
settlements.  The County Administrative Court of Stockholm
has in two cases decided that settlement negotiations should
take place for which reason such attempts have been made by
a psychologist in 1981 and 1982.  Two settlements have been
obtained by the County Administrative Court, one in 1981 and
the other in 1982.  In June 1983 (the applicant) instituted
enforcement proceedings in the County Administrative Court
which decided to adjourn the examination due to the fact
that (the mother) had requested the District Court of
Södertälje to terminate (the applicant's) access rights.
(The applicant) had disregarded the attempts of co-operation
which had been made in connection with all settlements and
he has not used the possibilities he has had to meet (the
child).  Instead he has turned to the County Administrative
Court with enforcement proceedings.  Through our Family
Rights Section (the applicant) got the opportunity, in
the autumn of 1982, to meet his son in his home. (The
applicant), however, behaved badly and was rude to the
mother and to the persons from the social authorities.  It
appears from the examination that it is not possible to
co-operate with (the applicant), either for (the mother) or
for the social authorities.  The question of access does not
concern a dispute between the parents but a problem which
cannot be solved due to (the applicant's) own behaviour.
(The child) has no relationship with his natural father and
it has not been possible to build up any relationship.  The
circumstances which were present already in 1980 when the
examination was made by the Family Rights Section in
Stockholm are still present and are more or less unchanged.
(The applicant) has no understanding of children's needs and
he continues to disregard (the child's) mother.  (The
mother) and her family do not have the strength any longer
to accept further attempts of co-operation and settlements.
If there are reasons indicating that a child may suffer when
together with a parent who does not have custody, no access
shall be granted.  The examination has shown that (the
applicant's) access to his child would involve a risk in
particular for his psychic development."

        As required by Chapter 6 Section 15 of the Swedish Parental
Code (föräldrabalken) the District Court of Södertälje continued its
examination of the case on 4 November 1985 on the basis of both
parties' submissions as well as the statements of four witnesses
proposed by the applicant and the report mentioned above.  The
District Court's majority decided in its judgment of the same day
to terminate the applicant's access to his son.  In its judgment
the majority wrote:

"A dispute between the holder of the custody and a parent
who does not have custody concerning access to the child
shall be examined only having the best interests of the
child in mind.  As a general starting point it is clear that
a child has a need of contact with both his parents and that
the best interest of the child therefore is encouraged by an
access right.  However, in case the child may suffer
physically or psychically when together with a parent such
access shall not be granted.

The examination of the case, in particular of the statements
submitted by the witnesses, discloses that (the applicant)
lives under suitable conditions and that his relationship
with (his son) is good.  This does not mean, however, that it
is as such in the interest of (the child) that (the applicant)
shall receive an access right to him.
(The child) is now eight years old.  He has only met his
father a few times.  A reason for the fact that proper
access has not been possible may be that (the applicant),
for more or less well-founded reasons, has considered
that (the mother) and the social authorities have opposed
him and that he therefore has acted in a way which has made
the co-operation and the access question even more
difficult.  Irrespective of how this has actually developed
it can now be established that the requirements for a
valuable association with (the applicant) are not at hand.
After several years of disputes (the applicant) has met (his
son) twice recently.  According to the examination of this
case it appears that in both instances conflicts, which must
be considered to be to the detriment of the child, have
appeared due to the applicant's behaviour.  The tense
relationship between (the applicant) and (the mother) must
be considered as influencing the child in a disturbing way
if he should now also be together with the father.

It is possible that (the applicant) can get together with
his son and create a good relationship between them in the
future, when (the child) takes the initiative.  Due to the
above problems, however, the District Court finds that for
the time being, and in accordance with the recommendations
of the Social District Council, it is not in the interest of
(the child) that (the applicant) should get access to him."

        The minority of the District Court stated the following:

"(The applicant) lives under suitable conditions and he
should not therefore as such be considered as being unable
to be together with his son.

It is true that the relationship between (the applicant) on
the one hand and (the mother) and (the child) on the other
is problematic for the time being.  An access right for (the
applicant) may therefore be feared to influence (the child)
in a negative way.  This, however, should be seen in the
light of the interest in obtaining a good relationship
between father and son in the future.  Such could be
encouraged by not breaking the contact totally.  When
considering these two, to a certain extent, contradictory
interests, we find that the latter weighs more heavily.  We
consider therefore that (the applicant) should have the
opportunity of meeting his son one Saturday afternoon per
month between 13.00 and 17.00 hours in the presence of a
third person to be selected by (the mother)."

        The applicant appealed against this judgment to the Svea Court
of Appeal (Svea hovrätt) on 22 November 1985.  However, on 25 April
1986 the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the District Court.
The applicant's request for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court
(Högsta domstolen) was subsequently rejected by the Supreme Court
on 9 July 1986.

COMPLAINTS

        The applicant submits that the courts have refused access due
to partiality and due to the fact that they have relied on a very
partial social report without taking into consideration his views or
those of the child.  Their conclusions are accordingly wrong.  He
refers in this respect to Article 6 of the Convention.

        The applicant furthermore invokes Article 5 of the Convention.
He submits that, under Swedish law, the person who has custody over a
child has a duty to see to it that the child's need for contact with
the parent who does not have custody is taken into consideration as
far as possible.  In case this does not happen the courts must decide,
in the interest of the child, on the question of access.  The
applicant maintains that a similar right is secured to him under the
Convention and he finds that the interest of the child must be
interpreted so as to give child and parent a guaranteed right to
contact with each other.



THE LAW

1.      The applicant has complained that the courts in question
ignored the evidence submitted by him and the witnesses heard on his
behalf.  He thus alleges that the courts were partial and that their
decisions were wrong in that preference was given to evidence which in
his opinion showed bias against him.  He relies in this respect on
Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention.

        With regard to the judicial decisions of which the
applicant complains, the Commission recalls that, in accordance with
Article 19 (Art. 19) of the Convention, its only task is to ensure the
observance of the obligations undertaken by the Parties in the
Convention.  In particular, it is not competent to deal with an
application alleging that errors of law or fact have been committed by
domestic courts, except where it considers that such errors might have
involved a possible violation of any of the rights and freedoms set
out in the Convention.  The Commission refers, on this point, to its
constant case-law (see e.g.  No. 458/59, Dec. 29.3.60, Yearbook 3
pp. 222, 236 ; No. 5258/71, Dec. 8.2.73, Collection 43 pp. 71, 77 ;
No. 7987/77, Dec. 13.12.79, D.R. 18 pp. 31, 45).

        It is true that the applicant also complains that the courts
were not impartial within the meaning of Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention.
In this respect the Commission finds that the competent courts made a
thorough examination of the issue of access and that they reached
their conclusion on the basis of what they considered to be in the
best interest of the child, without ignoring the applicant's interest
in maintaining contact with his child.  The Commission considers that
the reasons on which the courts based their decisions do not disclose
in any way that they were partial or that they disregarded the interests
of the applicant in an unfair or arbitrary manner.

        The Commission therefore concludes that the applicant's
allegations of a violation of the principle of impartiality of the
courts as set out in Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention are manifestly
ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the
Convention.

2.      The applicant has also complained that his right to contact
with or access to his child, which he maintains is a right secured to
him by the Convention, has been interfered with in an unjustified
manner.  The Commission has considered this complaint under Article 8
(Art. 8) of the Convention which reads as follows:


"1.      Everyone has the right to respect for his private
and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2.      There shall be no interference by a public authority
with the exercise of this right except such as is in
accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic
society in the interests of national security, public safety
or the economic well-being of the country, for the
prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of
health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and
freedoms of others."

        In accordance with the Commission's established case-law the
right to respect for family life within the meaning of Article 8 (Art. 8) of
the Convention includes the right of a divorced parent who is deprived
of custody following the break up of the marriage to have access or
contact with his child.  The State may not interfere with the exercise
of that right otherwise than in accordance with the conditions set out in
Article 8 para. 2 (Art. 8-2) (cf.  Hendriks v. the Netherlands, Comm.  Report
8.3.82, para. 94, D.R. 29 p. 14).

        The Commission furthermore considers that the natural link
between a parent and a child is of fundamental importance and that,
where the actual family life in the sense of living together has come
to an end, continued contact between them is desirable and should in
principle remain possible.  Respect for family life within the meaning
of Article 8 (Art. 8) thus implies that this contact should not be denied
unless there are strong reasons which justify such an interference.

        Turning to the facts of this case the Commission recalls that
it does not concern a divorced parent.  It does, however, concern a
case in which there had been actual family life in the sense that the
unmarried parents were living together, although it had come to an end
before the child was born.  In these circumstances, where, furthermore,
the question of paternity is not in dispute, the Commission accepts
that the decision of the courts to refuse the natural father's request
for visiting arrangements interfered with the exercise of his right to
respect for his family life under Article 8 (Art. 8) of the Convention.  It
must therefore examine whether the interference complained of was justified
under Article 8 para. 2 (Art. 8-2) of the Convention, i.e. whether the
interference was in accordance with the law and had an aim which was legitimate
and necessary in a democratic society.

        The Commission observes that the decisions taken by the
Swedish courts were based on Chapter 6 Section 15 of the Swedish
Parental Code.  Under this provision the court is required to take a
decision as to the question of access when the holder of the custody
rights refuses a request for access.  The interference was thus in accordance
with the law within the meaning of Article 8 para. 2 (Art. 8-2) of the
Convention.

        As regards the legitimate aim the Commission has constantly
held that in assessing the question of whether or not the refusal of
the right of access to the non-custodial parent was in conformity with
Article 8 (Art. 8) of the Convention, the interests of the child predominate.
The interference therefore has a legitimate aim insofar as it has
been made for the protection of the child's interests (cf.  No.7911/77,
Dec. 12.12.77, D.R. 12 p. 192).  There can be no doubt that the
interference in the present case with the applicant's right under
Article 8 (Art. 8) had this purpose.  What remains to be considered is
therefore whether the interference was necessary in a democratic
society for the protection of the child's interest.

        In examining whether the interference was necessary the
Commission does not intend to substitute its own judgment for that of
the competent domestic court.  Its function is to assess from the
point of view of Article 8 (Art. 8) the decision which the court took in the
exercise of its discretionary power.

        It is an important function of the law in a democratic society
to provide safeguards in order to protect children from harm and
mental suffering resulting, for instance, from the breakup of the
relationship of their parents.  In such cases this purpose may be
achieved by keeping the child away from a situation which could be
detrimental to his or her mental development owing to the existence of
a loyalty conflict vis à vis one or both of the parents and the
inevitable parental pressure put on him or her causing feelings of
insecurity and distress (cf.  Hendriks v. the Netherlands mentioned
above, para. 120).

        In the present case the Commission finds that the competent
national courts carefully considered the applicant's request for access
to his son.  They came to the conclusion, however, that, given the
difficulties between the parents, it was important for the child's
well-being to be kept out of these difficulties.  In these
circumstances the Commission is satisfied that the interference
complained of, namely the refusal of the applicant's request for a
visiting arrangement, was required by the interests of the child
and that the courts, when so deciding, did not go beyond their
discretionary power.

        The Commission has not overlooked the applicant's situation.
The absence of one's child may cause considerable suffering to the
non-custodial parent.  However, where, as in the present case, there
is a serious conflict between the interests of the child and one of
its parents which can only be resolved to the disadvantage of one of
them, the interest of the child must under Article 8 (Art. 8) prevail.

        The Commission concludes therefore that the interference with
the applicant's right to respect for his family life, being
proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued, was justified under
Article 8 para. 2 (Art. 8-2) as being necessary in a democratic society for the
protection of the rights and freedoms of another person, namely the
child concerned.

        It follows that this part of the application is also manifestly
ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the
Convention.

        For these reasons, the Commission


        DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE




Secretary to the Commission        President of the Commission




     (H. C. KRÜGER)                      (C. A. NØRGAARD)