Submission UN Office of High Commissioner – Call for Inputs on “parental alienation” – December 2022

May 2023 UPDATE ON Release of the Report: United Nations Special Rapporteur report on Parental Alienation:

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We note that the report United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women Reem Alsalem has called for ‘parental alienation’ to be banned from family law courts. We note that Rapporteur ignored submissions for Alienated Child First and other individuals which communicated that they had submitted. We note that organisations in other countries have also stated that their submissions were also ignored and not even acknowledged or cited by the Rapporteur.

This would appear to be a serious methodological flaw, that a report calling for submissions, has ignored any submission and data that did not agree with the agenda prior to the call for submissions.

The Department of Justice in its Open Consultation on Parental Alienation states:

Parental alienation generally refers to a process through which a child becomes estranged from a parent as the result of the psychological manipulation of the other parent. It may also refer to situations where one parent is wrongfully influencing their child or children against the other parent.

ACF notes that child protection professionals in other jurisdictions including Karen Woodall in the UK, (see below) whose contribution was also ignored, have raised similar concern about the report and go further, that this report ignores the abuse of children and its proposals would put a significant number of children at risk of harm.

The below clearly demonstrates that international bodies, courts, legislators, child professionals and of course victims, recognise that

  • Parental Alienation is child abuse and is serious issue
  • Parental alienation is not gender specific, it affects boys as well as girls, it affects fathers as well as mothers, if affects siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and of course adult children
  • Parental Alienation is being dealt with every day in the courts and with child protection professionals
  • Parental Alienation deniers are damaging child protection and undermining children’s right and those working to protect children

ACF provides peer to peer support and advocacy for those suffering the abuse of Parental Alienation and is it deeply tragic that individuals and organisation are victim blaming and victim shaming victims and organisations working with those victims.

Karen Woodall : Misrepresenting Harm of Children in Divorce and Separation: Responding to The Report from UNSR VAWG

“As the 53rd session of UN Human Rights Council is convened on 10th June 2023, the Family Separation Clinic will be responding to the misinformation in the report of the Special Rapporteur which is written from an ideological perspective, misrepresenting the work of the Clinic and many others by omission of the evidence submitted. It is clear from the report that the underlying intention is to misrepresent the reality on the ground by relying largely upon the evidence of mothers who have had their children removed due to serious harm and those who support them.

The Special Rapportuer, by her own admission, does not speak for the United Nations. Her recent twitter clarification is helpful in this respect when considering the impact of the misrepresentations within the report. Nevertheless, the report is already being misrepresented, with some claiming, (with clever punctuation), that the use of Parental Alienation is now banned, which is clearly not the case.” – Karen Woodall”

There are multiple Irish High Court cases where the courts have considered children affected by the abuse of parental alienation:

“… the Court was satisfied that whilst the father was clearly not without fault in the matter the mother had alienated the children from contact with their father. In addition, the mother had set out to undermine and marginalise any expert who she considered was giving evidence unfavourable to her. In the case of the youngest child of the parents, the Court felt the drastic step of a change of primary care from the mother to the father was necessary.” Abbot J in AB v CD [2011] IEHC 543

“Parental Alienation
41 The applicant is convinced that the respondent has engaged in a campaign of parental alienation, which has brought about A.’s negative view of the applicant. This is a very serious allegation to make. If it were true, it would mean that the respondent was deliberately undermining any relationship that A. might have with the applicant, which could only be to the detriment of A.’s welfare. If a court were to conclude that a parent was engaging in such conduct, a court would have a duty, in the interests of the child, to take all such steps as might be appropriate to redress the alienation.” Binchy J in CG v BC [2019] IEHC 15

A considerable body of European Court of Human Rights cases explore the jurisprudence (which applies in Ireland) of parental alienation, in particular the case below which cites the term 14 times and reminds states of their positive obligations to protect the rights of children:

“IS v Malta and Others (European Court of Human Rights) Application no. 9410/20

117 The Court reiterates that the establishment of contact [in parental alienation cases] may require preparatory or phased measures and that the cooperation and understanding of all concerned will always be an important ingredient. However, lack of cooperation between separated parents is not a circumstance which can by itself exempt the authorities from their positive obligations under Article 8. It rather imposes on the authorities an obligation to take measures to reconcile the conflicting interests of the parties, keeping in mind the best interests of the child as primary consideration (ibid. §§ 47 and 50)……


  1. Declares the application admissible;
  2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention;
  3. …..
  4. Invites the authorities to examine the applicants’ situation speedily and take the relevant action without further delay bearing in mind the findings in this judgment;

[End of May 2025 Update]

The below is the original text when ACF submitted to the December 2022 call from the Rapporteur:

The Special Rapporteur of the UN Office of High Commissioner (UNOHC) has call for inputs and case studies to

Purpose To inform the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls’ report on the nexus between custody and guardianship cases, violence against women and violence against children, with a focus on the abuse of the concept of “parental alienation” and related or similar concepts.

ACF has made this submission with the inclusion of 27 cases, including 25 of those submitted in 2022 to the Irish Department of Justice’s Open Consultation on Parental Alienation. (Note all the original cases could be contacted in time to get additional permission for use for this additional purpose). Many of those supported by ACF have submitted personal stories.

ACF express a number of concerns about this call for information, in that it discriminates by gender on its selection of victims and that the wording used is prejudicial to an open mind on the topic. ACF is gender neutral and helps and lobbies for all victims, regardless of gender, orientation, race or religion. ACF is very concerned that discriminatory approaches to not help child and adult victims and may protect or enable perpetrators of this form of domestic violence and child abuse.

Parental alienation is cited in over 10 reported Irish High Court cases and 20 European Court of Human Rights cases where the jurisprudence has reminded states of their “positive obligations” to protect children affected by parental alienation.

You can view the main submission document here.

You can view the anonymised victims stories here (stories removed from the publicised version to protect the identity and privacy of the individuals and to ensure they are protect from court in camera rules which prevent and hinder victims from telling their stories.

You can view the main ACF submission here

You can view the victims stories here (note the full stories were in the version supplied to the UN OHC)

ACF December 2022

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