THE FACTS

I.   THE APPLICANT'S ORIGINAL SUBMISSIONS

The facts of the case, as they were originally submitted by the
applicant, may be summarised as follows:

The applicant is a Danish citizen, born in 1921 and resident in
Copenhagen. She is a book-keeper by training.

Her application concerns the actions taken by the competent Danish
authorities with regard to the four children born in her first
marriage. The children were born in 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1958
respectively. The applicant obtained a decree of judicial separation
from her first husband in 1963 and a final divorce in 1966. At the
separation the applicant was given custody of her children. She married
againin 1968. As a consequence of the separation and, apparently, after
the applicant had applied for financial assistance for help to look
after the children, she was approached by the local Child and Youth
Welfare Board (börne- od ungdomsvarenet i K. kommune). In January 1964
the Board appointed a child welfare officer (tilsynsvaerge) to
supervise the children.

In her original submission the applicant gave a very detailed account
of their home conditions during the following years and her relations
with the officers of the Board and her former husband and the alleged
persecution she was subjected to.

In November 1966 the District Medical Officer (kredslaegen) visited the
home at the request of the Board to investigate reports of alleged
neglect of the children. He did not, however, consider that there were
reasons to remove the children. In March 1967, the District Medical
Officer made a new inspection and reported that the house was dirty and
disorderly. He did not recommend that the children should be removed
for good but only provisionally in order to enable the house to be
cleaned and attended to.

On .. March 1967, the Board decided that, according to Section 28
paragraph 1 (2) of the Child and Youth Welfare Act (lov om börne- og
ungdomsforsorg), the three youngest children should be taken away from
their home and placed elsewhere. No decision was taken with regard to
the eldest child who was a boarder at a school for word-blind children.
The three youngest children were put into the care of a farmer at H.

On .. August 1967, the Board ordered that the children should be
returned to their mother on probation.

On .. July 1969, the Board decided, with the consent of the mother,
that all the children should be examined by a child psychiatrist. The
resulting report recommended that the three youngest children should
be taken into care outside their home for a longer period. The eldest
child should be allowed to continue her school education despite the
mother's objection.

On .. August 1969 the Board ordered that all the children should be
taken in charge away from their home with a view to placing the eldest
daughter in a school and the other three in an institution for child
care. After having been separated accordingly, all the children were,
from .. July 1970, placed in an institution for child care in M. A
psychiatrist's report in May 1970 stated that one of the children (born
in 1956), who had shown signs of psychiatric problems, was in need of
care in an institution with small groups where a man was in charge.
This was said to be more important than keeping all the four children
together.

The applicant appealed against the Board's decision of .. August 1970
which was upheld by the National Board (Landsnaevnet) on .. January
1970. The applicant then requested that the case should be referred to
the High Court for Eastern Denmark (Östre Landsret) for a decision. In
its judgment of .. September 1970 the Court recorded that the principal
of the institution where the children were placed had stated that all
of them were out of balance and needed a period of rest and security.
The Court also noted that the mother had given evidence to the effect
that she had by then been forced to leave her former house, was living
in a two-room apartment and had refused to give more detailed
information concerning her living conditions. She was unable to work
because of a wrist injury.

The Court held that it was necessary, in order to protect the interests
of the children, that all four of them should be taken in charge for
care outside their own home since the conditions there were such that
their bodily and mental health and development was likely to be
endangered. The removal of the children from their home was therefore
in accordance with the law.

It appears from the applicant's submissions that she and her present
husband visited the children regularly after they had been taken to the
institution in August 1969.

The applicant alleged that, in January 1970, she was refused permission
to visit the children and told that she would be reported to the police
if she tried to see them or find out where they were. According to her,
she only learned about their whereabouts at the hearing in the High
Court on .. September 1970. In a letter dated .. February 1972 the
applicant emphasised that by then more than two years had passed since
she last saw her children or received a word from them.

The applicant did not invoke any specific Article of the Convention but
indicated that her application concerned the "kidnapping" of her four
children and refusal of permission for her to see them since January
1970.

II.  PROCEEDINGS

The Commission first examined the application on 12 July 1972 and, in
a partial decision on admissibility, declared inadmissible the
complaint concerning the decision to place the applicant's children in
care away from their own home. The Commission left open the question
whether the applicant had exhausted all domestic remedies, but found
that this part of the application was manifestly ill-founded.

The Commission held that the decision to remove the children from the
applicant's home constituted unquestionably an interference with her
right to respect for her family life under Article 8 (1). However, this
decision was "in accordance with the law" as it was provided for in
Section 28, paragraph 1 (2) of the Child and Youth Welfare Act.
Furthermore, the Commission recalled that the High Court considered
that it was necessary to place the children in care outside their home
in the interest of their welfare and based this conclusion on
recommendations by psychiatrists and child welfare officers.

The Commission found that this decision was reasonable in the
circumstances and that the consequent interference with the applicant's
family life therefore fell under Article 8 (2) of the Convention as a
necessary measure for the protection of the "health or morals" of the
children.

The Commission next examined the applicant's complaint that she had
been refused all access to her children since January 1970. The
Commission found that an examination of the file at that stage did not,
on certain points, give the information required for determining the
question on admissibility of this part of the application. It therefore
decided, in accordance with Rule 45, 3 (b) of its Rules of Procedure,
to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent
Government and to invite the Government to submit their observations
in writing on admissibility.

The respondent Government's observations were submitted on 5 September
1972 and the applicant submitted her observations in reply on 20
September 1972.

Subsequent to the filing of her above observations, the applicant wrote
a number of further letters to the Commission.

III. SUBMISSIONS OF THE PARTIES

The respondent Government submitted the following observations on 5
September 1972:

"On .. August 1969 the Child and Youth Welfare Board of the then local
Government district of K. (which has since been incorporated into the
local government district of G.) decided pursuant to section 28,
sub-section 1 (2) of the Child and Youth Welfare Act of 1964 that the
four children of Mrs X: A. born on .. March 1955; B. born on ..
February 1956; C. born on .. September 1957; and D. born on ..
September 1958, be taken in charge by the National Child and Youth
Welfare Board on .. January 1970 and upheld by the High Court, Eastern
Division, on .. September 1970.

Pursuant to the decision of the Child and Youth Welfare Board of ..
August 1969, A. was placed temporarily in the E. School while the three
youngest children were placed temporarily in a children's boarding
house at H. On .. July 1970, all four children were placed in " ...
Hus", a children's home at M., where they have since been staying.

After Mrs. X had introduced her application with the European
Commission on Human Rights, the Ministry of Social Affairs requested
the appropriate representative of the Social Welfare Administration,
the Child Welfare Consultant of the Counties of Copenhagen and R., to
look into the matter.

In response to the consultant's enquiries the Child and Youth Welfare
Board of the local Government district of G. and the principal of the
children's home at M., have stated that neither law courts nor
authorities have taken any decision restricting the applicant's right
of access to the children.

Until Mrs. X. moved from K. she as well as her husband visited the
children almost every Sunday. But since then she has never tried,
through the child welfare authorities or the children's home, to get
into contact with her children; and attempts by the authorities and the
children's home to get into touch with Mrs. X. have been unavailing
because of her changing addresses. In September 1970, when the case of
the removal of the children from the home was heard in the High Court,
the principal of the home spoke to Mrs. X. and invited her to visit the
children at the institution. In spite of renewed requests to her, sent
to the address which she had given for the purpose of the Court
hearing, she did not visit the children at the institution.

The child welfare authorities and the principal of the children's home
are still prepared to arrange for Mrs. X. to see her children.

In these circumstances the Government of Denmark submits that Mrs. X's
application be declared inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded,
see Article 27 (2), of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The applicant submitted her observations in reply on 20 September 1972.
As in her previous submissions she again made a number of accusations
against the children's aunt (the sister of her first husband) and the
Child and Youth Welfare Board at K. In particular, she alleged that the
aunt tried to get control over a sum of money which the children had
inherited and that she wanted the eldest child to become an apprentice
in her hairdresser's shop.

As regards access to the children, the applicant stated that she had
visited the children for the last time on .. January 1970 at the
children's boarding house at H. When she and her second husband
returned the following week they were allegedly told by both the
principal of the boarding house and the aunt that the Board had
prohibited all access to the children. On .. January the applicant and
her husband allegedly tried again to see the children but were refused
permission and told by the principal  that she would call the police
if they came back. The applicant alleged that she was later summoned
by a police officer, Mr. E. in Copenhagen, and that he told her that
she and her husband were prohibited from contacting the children at any
time.

According to the applicant she was told, whenever she approached the
authorities, that she would be put into the closed ward of a mental
hospital if she went on asking about the children. She also claims that
she repeatedly tried without success to contact the children or find
out where they were. The applicant alleged that she went to see the
Social Welfare Administration and that the Child Welfare Consultant so
often that they finally threatened to call the police in order to stop
her. For the last six months she had been afraid to go there again.

The applicant denied the respondent Government's assertion that she had
moved and stated that she had lived at the same address since .. July
1970. She claimed that the authorities were well aware of her address
as both she and her husband had been followed and officials were
continuously making enquiries about them in their street.

The applicant all referred to the hearing in the High Court in
September 1970 and said that she only refused to give her address
because a certain official was present and she wanted to be protected
from his persecution. However, she allegedly gave the Chief Judge a
paper with her address. When she asked the Chief Judge for permission
to see her children he told her to ask permission from the Head of the
institution at M. The principal allegedly said that she could visit the
children if the principal first had approved of the applicant's home
and the aunt had given her consent. In the meanwhile, the applicant was
allegedly told not to try to visit or write to the children. The
applicant claims that she never heard from the principal again. She
maintains that the respondent Government's statement that attempts had
been made to find her was false and that the Child and Youth Welfare
Board does not know what truth is.

According to the applicant she went again to the Social Welfare Office
in Copenhagen in October 1970 to try to get some further information.
She claims that she was told that all access was still forbidden and
that the children had been handed over to their aunt. The applicant
alleged that she was once more told that she would be brought to a
mental hospital if she continued much longer.

The applicant also stated that the children had no contact with their
aunt or the rest of their father's family until .. August 1969.

IV.  SUBSEQUENT SUBMISSIONS FROM THE APPLICANT

On 23 September 1972 the applicant wrote a letter complaining that the
Child and Youth Welfare Board did not give her children the money which
belonged to them.

On 23 October 1972 the applicant wrote again and said that she and her
husband had visited the children on 9 October. They were allegedly told
by the children that all information as to her whereabouts had been
withheld from the children at the children's home. In this letter the
applicant also suggested that her correspondence was being censored and
that letters sent to her never arrived and she complained of
persecution by the authorities.

On 2 November 1972 the applicant wrote a further letter enclosing a
copy of a letter from the principal of the children's home dated 1
November in which the applicant and her husband were told that the
children had been brought out of balance by her visits. The principal
reproached the applicant for having tried to upset the good
relationship between the children on the one hand, and on the other
hand, the principal and the institution. The principal stressed that
they were trying at the home to give the children a feeling of
security. Having regard to the effect on the children by the
applicant's visits, the principal felt that these visits would have to
be limited. She pointed out, however, that such a decision would, of
course, have to be taken in consultation with the Child and Youth
Welfare Board and with the children themselves. Before a new agreement
could be made concerning another visit, the applicant would hear from
the Board.

According to the applicant, the eldest boy had told her that she would
not be allowed to visit them much longer from the moment the aunt heard
that the applicant knew the children's address.

THE LAW

In view of the terms of the Commission's partial decision of 12 July
1972 on the admissibility of the present application, the only question
which falls to be considered by the Commission is the alleged refusal
by the Danish authorities to allow the applicant to visit her children.
The Commission observes that, if substantiated, this complaint would
undoubtedly raise a question under Article 8 (1) (Art. 8-1) of the
Convention which secures to everyone the right to respect for his
family life.

Having regard to the respondent Government's observations on
admissibility, the Commission considers, however, that there is no
foundation for the applicant's allegations that she has been prevented
from access to her children.

It is true that the applicant has referred to a number of occasions
when she claims to have been orally informed that she was not allowed
to see the children. There is, however, not the slightest evidence to
support these allegations and, indeed, she appears to have taken no
proceedings as regards this alleged refusal of access. Moreover, it
appears that the authorities have taken all reasonable steps to inform
the applicant of the position with regard to the possibility of
visiting the children.

An examination by the Commission of this complaint as it has been
submitted, including an examination made ex officio, does not therefore
disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set
forth in the Convention and in particular in the above Article.

It follows that the remainder of this application is manifestly
ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27, paragraph (2)
(Art. 27-2), of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Commission DECLARES THE REMAINDER OF THIS
APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE.