A United Nations Human Rights panel has slammed a Madrid appeals court for granting an allegedly abusive father full custody of his seven-year-old daughter.
The UN experts described the ruling as going against ‘international norms’.
They claim the child is at ‘grave risk’ and branded the decision as a ‘miscarriage of justice’.
The woman lost custody of the girl at a Pozuelo de Alarcon court and the verdict was upheld by a Madrid region appeals bench this month.
A UN statement issued on Monday said: “Despite a history of domestic violence and evidence suggesting he had committed sexual abuse against his daughter for years, the appeals court determined that the father did not pose a risk to the child and granted him full custody.”
Spanish law prevents the granting joint custody in cases of gender-based violence.
“We are deeply concerned that this is not an isolated problem, as we continue to receive information on cases in Spain of mothers losing custody, and sometimes even facing prison, for attempting to protect their children from abusive fathers,” the UN experts stated.
The UN panel has demanded ‘more comprehensive measures to be adopted to prevent the continued misapplication of the law’.
“In this case, ignoring the evidence of sexual abuse against the child, and of gender-based violence against the mother, and granting custody to the father is clearly not in the best interest of the child – a core obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” the experts said.
The panel argues that there is a bias in the Spanish judicial system that favours men in custody battles, even to the extent of ignoring gender violence against the mother and sexual abuse against a child.
The appeals court upheld the original verdict that maintaining the custody of the child with the mother would risk further damaging the relationship between daughter and father, as the mother would be ‘inducing in the child the belief that her father is evil’.
The UN states that the theory of ‘parental alienation’ was banned under Spanish law last year.
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