Case of European Court of Human Rights, January 17, 2006 (case Elli Poluhas Dödsbo v. Sweden)

Resolution Date:January 17, 2006
SUMMARY

No violation of Art. 8

 
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Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 82

January 2006

Elli Poluhas Dödsbo v. Sweden - 61564/00

Judgment 17.1.2006 [Section II]

Article 8

Article 8-1

Respect for family life

Respect for private life

Refusal to permit widow to transfer her late husband’s urn to a family burial plot in a different city: no violation

Facts: The applicant, her husband and five children lived in Fagersta. Following the husband’s death in 1963 his ashes were buried in a family grave at a local cemetery. In 1980 the applicant moved to Västerås (70 kilometres away) to be closer to her children. In 1996 she requested the cemetery authorities to allow the transfer of her husband’s urn to her family burial plot in Stockholm, where her parents had been buried and where she herself intended to be buried after her death (Stockholm is situated 180 kilometres from Fagersta). The applicant submitted in addition that she had no connections to Fagersta any more, that all her children agreed to the removal of the ashes and that she was sure that her husband would not have objected either. Her request was refused by the authorities out of respect for the notion of “a peaceful rest” under the Funeral Act. A county administrative board upheld the refusal, as did a county administrative court. Leave to appeal was refused by an administrative court of appeal and by the Supreme Administrative Court. Following the applicant’s death in 2003 she was buried at the family burial plot in Stockholm.

Under domestic law, when a person dies, his or her wishes concerning cremation and burial should, as far as possible, be followed. Once remains or ashes have been buried, moving them from one place to another is in principle not allowed. However, permission to that end may be granted if special reasons exist and if the proposed new location has clearly been stated. In several judgments rendered in 1994 the Supreme Administrative Court interpreted the notion of “special reasons” restrictively.

Law: The Court did not consider it necessary to determine whether the refusal to...

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