Family solicitor and international family law specialist, Helen Newman, attended a conference celebrating the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child organised by the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic, the Association of Friends of Children from Children’s Homes (Spolocnost priatelov detí z detských domovov Úsmev ako dar), and the Judicial Academy of the Slovak Republic, held at the Ministry of Justice in Omšenie, Slovakia last month.
At the conference, Helen was honoured by the Society of Friends of Abandoned Children Smile as a Gift, and the Association of Family Judges in Slovakia with an award for her ‘outstanding bravery, compassion, and humanitarian engagement of children’s rights not to be separated from their families under Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.’
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the most complete statement of children’s rights to ever be produced. Article 9 concerns a child’s right not to be separated from their parents against their will unless it is in their best interests. Helen attended the conference in Slovakia to give a presentation on the child removal cases in the UK as part of the overall discussion on the notion of ‘best interest of the child’ in different areas of family law. The conference was attended by prominent international family law lawyers from across Europe, Slovak judges, judges from the European Court of Human Rights, and social workers.
She was honoured with an award that highlights the work she does in this country for Slovak and Czech nationals involving care cases and child abduction cases where she works to ensure that children remain with their parents or family members, are not placed for adoption, or are returned to their country of habitual residence. The award, which Helen and a number of other prominent international family law experts, particularly noted her ‘significant long-term assistance in advocating the rights of children in difficult life situations’.
Receiving such an award is a testimony to the work Helen carries out concerning international child abduction. With over 40 years’ experience, Helen is a leading authority on the subject having had a case heard – the first ever family case from England – at the Court of Justice of the European Union, which is now firmly embedded into English national law. The majority of her clients are foreign nationals and Helen strives to ensure that their ethnicity, cultural, and national identities are understood within the English legal system.
Her proficiency is well-regarded and she is continuously recommended by individuals and organisations around the world for her expertise. She is a listed lawyer on the joint list published by the French Embassy and Consulate in London, and is one of the longest serving solicitors on the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) accredited solicitors’ referral list. Helen is also a founding member of the Child Abduction Lawyers’ Association (CALA).
“It was a complete surprise to receive award at the conference in Omšenie. I am extremely honoured that my work has been recognised by the Society of Friends of Abandoned Children and the Association of Family Judges in Slovakia and it is a privilege to be sharing this award with such good company.”
We are incredibly proud of all the work Helen does in bolstering our international family work and transforming the lives of children and their families though her superlative legal representations and work. We offer her huge congratulations to her on being honoured and awarded at this conference and are thrilled that her incredible work has been recognised and rewarded on an international basis.