An appeals panel in the Republic of Cyprus has ruled that a district judge was wrong in siding with the mother of two teenage girls, whose father had sought a court order to get the girls vaccinated for coronavirus over mom’s objection.
The family saga in Paphos that made headlines when the father took the mother to court over the vaccination prospects of their daughters, continued this week with a panel of appeals judges unanimously agreeing that the teenage girls of the divorced couple ought to have been heard in court.
Back in August 2021, the father of the two girls in their mid-teens filed a case seeking a decree that would allow his daughters to travel with him to his native country to visit their sick grandmother as well as get vaccinated despite their mother’s refusals.
The district court dismissed the request and sided with the mother, who cited health risks and also argued it was a bad time for her daughters to travel amid a pandemic.
'The mother’s objection was based on a vaguely stated position of a pediatrician that the vaccination was not recommended due to the children's allergies and personal medical history'
But the father took the matter higher up with an appeals panel on Wednesday siding with his position and allowing him to seek further legal recourse.
“There was a difference of opinion between the parents as to whether the children were consenting to getting vaccinated,” the appeals judges found.
The panel also said the age of the girls “was such that it allowed them to be informed within their environment and form an opinion,” while the presiding judge also cautioned that a court should always listen carefully to avoid “unfair influence” on the position of a minor.
“This is why the Court ought to act in the interests and rights of the child, depending on their age, maturity, and the overall circumstances in their environment,” the judge said.
The judges also pointed out that the court made another mistake by not asking for “solid evidence” and documented proof from the mother, who had claimed a pediatrician had advised her on possible risks on her daughters’ health if they were to proceed with COVID vaccination.
“In this case, the mother’s objection was based on a vaguely stated position of a pediatrician that the vaccination was not recommended due to the children's allergies and personal medical history” the panel said.
Appeals judges say courts ought to seek solid evidence
The panel also appeared to criticize the private knowledge of the lower court judge.
“This last issue involves judicial knowledge and its scope both in relation to the pandemic in general as well as to the benefit of vaccines in particular,” the panel said.
The judges said the lower court could have sought additional testimony beyond the medical claims presented by the mother that were also contested by the plaintiff.
“Therefore the testimony on medical matters given by the defendant in the absence of expert opinion and confirmation should never have been taken into account by the lower court,” the panel concluded.
The appeals court said it would not delve into the travel request as the dates have already passed, but pointed out that the father could very well seek another decree to get the kids vaccinated by taking the matter back to the lower court.
“We believe the national vaccination program that regulates age and vaccines is a useful tool,” the panel said, adding that this ought to be helpful to a judge presiding over the case.