MOSCOW — Europe’s human rights court ordered Moscow on Tuesday to pay damages to American families who were abruptly prevented from adopting Russian children, characterizing the ban as discriminatory.
A panel of seven judges, including one Russian, unanimously ruled that a 2012 adoption ban was discriminatory and said that Russia should pay each pair of prospective American parents $3,200 in damages and $600 in legal fees.
In its ruling, the court said the ban “had unlawfully discriminated against the prospective parents” and “had prevented the adoption of Russian children by the U.S. applicants purely on the basis of the prospective parents’ nationality.”
The case was filed by 45 Americans who were in the final stages of adoptions in Russia in 2012 when the Parliament abruptly ended adoptions by Americans in retaliation for United States sanctions against Russian officials accused of rights abuses.
About 60,000 Russian children were adopted by Americans in the 20 years before the ban. The adoptions of as many as 200 families, some of whom had met and formed bonds with children, were canceled when the law took effect. Russian officials said at the time that the ban was a response to accusations of abuse and neglect by American parents. The Russian law was named for Dima Yakovlev, a Russian toddler who died after his adoptive American father left him in a hot car.
Russian politicians promptly criticized the court’s ruling on Tuesday. Yelena B. Mizulina, a Russian senator, called the decision “a brazen interference into Russia’s internal affairs.”
“Russia’s Constitutional Court will check to what extent this ruling corresponds to the Russian Constitution and our legislation,” she said in a statement.
In 2015, Russia’s Constitutional Court said the country’s Constitution took precedence over the European court’s rulings, opening the possibility that the country may ignore the ruling.