The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Placement of a baby shortly after birth was permissible

The placement of a baby shortly after its birth was permissible due to the mother's inability to care for the child. The Federal Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the woman. However, she must be allowed more frequent personal contact with her child.

The woman, who lived alone, had undergone artificial insemination in Denmark. The baby was born prematurely at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) in the canton of Vaud. The hospital staff noticed that the mother had difficulty recognizing and responding to the child's needs. The woman also had difficulty understanding and implementing the advice of the nursing staff.

For this reason, three days after the birth, a specialized medical team approached the Lausanne District Court of Peace and the child protection authority. The authority ordered the urgent temporary placement of the child in the CHUV maternity ward. This is the result of a ruling by the Federal Supreme Court published on Wednesday.

Child placed in a home

A few days later, the Justice of the Peace Court issued an urgent order depriving the mother of the right to determine the child's place of residence as a precautionary measure. The court issued a provisional mandate to the General Directorate for Childhood and Youth of the Canton of Vaud (DGEJ) to place and care for the child, who was placed in a home.

The Justice of the Peace Court ultimately decided to uphold the precautionary measures. It based its decision on several reports and the hearing of various people, including the mother and her sister.

The Cantonal Court of the Canton of Vaud dismissed an appeal by the woman against this decision in October 2023. It also had a medical certificate from the psychiatrist who had examined the woman twice and a statement from the DGEJ.

More contacts needed

In its ruling, the Federal Supreme Court stated that the placement was proportionate. A less drastic measure such as a guardianship should not have been preferred. The DGEJ and the Justice of the Peace Court had already ruled out 24-hour assistance for the mother because this would have required three care professionals.

The task of the DGEJ is to gradually establish a lasting relationship between the mother and the child. This requires more frequent physical contact than was previously possible - there were two accompanied visits per week.

This restriction was justified on the grounds of organizational problems, which the Federal Supreme Court does not accept, as it concerns the restriction of parental rights due to a longer-term placement. (Judgment 5A_911/2023 of 27.2.2024)


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