Case of Atala Riffo and Children vs. Chile

English Translation by Stephanie Plotin
March 2012

Official Summary Issued By the Inter-American Court of the Decision

The facts of the present case are related to the custody process that was brought before the Chilean court by the father of the girls M., V. and R. against Ms. Karen Atala Riffo , alleging that her sexual orientation and her co-habitation with a partner of the same sex would cause harm to the three girls.  In this sense, the Court had to resolve, among other issues, the international responsibility of the State for the alleged discriminatory treatment and the arbitrary interference in her private and family life that Ms. Atala has suffered due to her sexual orientation as part of the judicial process which resulted in the girls M., V. and R. being removed from her care and custody.  In order to do so, the Court analyzed the arguments expressed in the Supreme Court’s decision, and the temporary custody order of the Villarrica Juvenile Court. In this manner, the Inter-American Court determined that it did not fulfill the functions of a court of “fourth review,” and therefore it was not within the Court’s jurisdiction to establish if the mother or the father of the three girls offered a better home for said girls, to examine evidence to prove this particular proposition, or to make a determination regarding the custody of the girls M., v. and R, aspects that are outside of the purpose of the present case.

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