The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has once again sentenced France for refusing to transcribe into its civil registers the birth certificates of children born through surrogate mothers abroad. France had already been convicted in the cases of Labassee and Mennesson for the same reasons, in June 2014.

Although the ECHR also recognises France’s right to prohibit surrogacy on its territory, in reality, it revoked the country’s ability to enforce this prohibition.

Yet, Surrogacy violates European and international law, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights, which the ECHR aims to enforce and whose Article 4 prohibits slavery.

Surrogacy is obviously a form of slavery since it consists in hiring women and acquiring a child — whether given out or sold — and this corresponds to the definition of slavery in Article 1 of the Slavery Convention: “Slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised”.

Sadly, the ECHR is incoherent as it does not take measures to fight against slavery: focusing on one particular case, it overlooks the fact that its judgement will lead to a volley of effects and an increase in the practice of surrogacy, as evidenced by the decision of the French Cour de cassation of 3 July 2015.

Moreover, considering the case of one child, the failure to transcript a birth established abroad does not pose a problem: in all member states of the Council of Europe, many people live in one country while their birth has been established in another.

The practice of surrogacy is also contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights because it respects neither the privacy of the woman, whose physical and mental intimacy is subverted in favour of a lucrative trade, nor that of the child who is torn away from his mother and, as the case may be, from his country.

No Traffic Maternity notes that, in asking France to compensate the two fathers who resorted to surrogacy, the ECHR does not respect the European Convention on Human Rights and abandons its mission to protect all categories of citizens.