Loss of parental responsibility – a new legal instrument between need of protection of the best interest of the child and respect of parent fundamental rights

Sonila Omari
Abstract:
The new Albanian Family Code provides an additional measure reading the protection of the child, namely, the “loss of parental responsibility.” Differently from the measure of “removal of the parental responsibility” that is provided in the civil code provisions, this new measure has been introduced for the first time in the Albanian legal framework and is taken by court through a penal process. Thus, according to article 223 of the Family Code, “the parents of a child may loose the parental responsibility through a penal court decision that has found them guilty of committing themselves or assisting in the commitment of a criminal offense against their child. They may also loose it if they have been convicted for any of the reasons regarding the abandonment of the family and have not fulfilled the related obligations.” This paper aims to analyse and interpret the introduction of this new measure which has caused difficulties regarding its practical application by courts. The authors of the paper analyse the legal features of the measure and the controversies of the doctrine in relation to such a measure. They also suggest the categorization of the new measure as a punishment of a penal nature, i.e as a supplementary punishment. The paper also analyses the cases where the measure is likely to be applied and the terms applicable to the individual that will be subjected to this measure. The paper reviews also the time frame of the application of the new measure. The current legal framework does not contain a specific provision regarding this issue. In light of the evolution of the concept of the parental responsibility as well as the perspective of human rights protection the authors support the idea of the regulation of the time limits of the measure. The authors argue that in the determination of the time limits of the application of the measure (including the possible return of the parental rights), it is important the courts maintain a fair balance between the loss of parental responsibility and the respect of rights of the biological parent, in the highest interest of the child, to be raised and educated in the family of origin. At the end of the paper the authors also suggest the need to improve de lege ferenda the current provisions in order to ensure that the application of the new measure meets its purposes, i.e the removal of the parental rights is applied only in those cases where the parents are considered unfitted to exercise this right over their children.

Keywords:
loss of parental responsibility, supplementary penal punishment, minor, interest of the minor, protection of human rights

Full text available in PDF: Academicus-MMXI-4-096-107.pdf

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