In 2000, it was revealed by a whistle-blower that disabled women were unlawfully (art.16-3 of the civil code) sterilized by force from 1995 to 1998 in the city of Sens. On September 11th 2000, an advocacy group ADHY (Association de Défense des Handicapés de l’Yonne) pressed criminal charges by filing a complain to an investigative judge of the tribunal of Sens for “aggravated mutilation” (art.222-10 of the penal code) and “obstruction of justice” (art.434-1 of the penal code). On October 18th 2000, the prosecutor of the Republic also filed a complain to the investigative judge.
On October 20th 2000, the investigative judge refused to allow the complain of the ADHY. On July 2th 2001, the investigation chamber of the appeal court of Paris confirmed the decision. On October 9th 2002 the supreme court (Cour de cassation) rejected the appeal of the ADHY (case 01-88831). Some disabled citizens who were sterilized by force joined the proceedings.
On April 3rd 2006, the investigative judge Mickaël Ghir closed the criminal investigation with no charge brought against the suspects. On March 12th 2007, the investigation chamber of the appeal court of Paris confirmed the decision on the ground that “it is extremely difficult for disabled citizens to parent“. On June 10th 2008, the supreme court found the appeal of the plaintiffs inadmissible (case 07-86623) on the ground that a joint-appeal was not made by the prosecutor (art.575 of the code of penal procedure).
On December 10th 2008, 5 disabled women filed an application to the ECHR on the ground that the lack of legal assistance provided to them during the investigation and the inadmissibility of their appeal to the supreme court were both a violation of article 6-1. They added that their forced sterilizations were a violation of articles 3, 8, 12 in conjunction with article 14. On February 22th 2011, the application was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. The applicant is represented by Me Didier Seban (Paris).
On August 16th 2011, the European group of national Human Rights institutions submitted to the Court a brief amicus curiae .