The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has condemned Poland for the inhumane and degrading treatment of a 14-year-old rape victim whom the authorities tried to stop having an abortion.

The court ruled that the girl's right to a private and family life had been flouted in 2008.

It said she had been arbitrarily detained after being briefly placed in a home to separate her from her mother, who favoured an abortion.

"The court was particularly struck that the authorities started criminal proceedings for illicit sexual relations against the adolescent who, according to the prosecutor and medical reports, should have been considered the victim of sexual abuse," the Strasbourg judges said in their verdict.

It said that Poland had violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights - "prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment".

A staunchly Catholic country, Poland's legislation on abortion is amongst the strictest in Europe and the Strasbourg court has already twice condemned it for failing to ensure the law on the subject is respected.

The hospitals in the southeastern city of Lublin did everything to dissuade the girl from having an abortion, sending her to see a priest before refusing to carry out the operation.

Officials alerted local media to the story, prompting harassment of the girl by anti-abortion campaigners.

The abortion was finally carried out by a hospital in the northern port city of Gdansk, around 500km from the girl's home.

In its ruling, the court said the case highlighted the huge gap in Poland between the statute book, which should have allowed the girl an abortion under a 1993 family planning law, and how doctors and local officials behave.

Although the case against the girl for illegal sexual relations was eventually dropped, so was the one against her alleged rapist, the court said.

The court, which has jurisdiction in the 47 countries of the Council of Europe and is not part of the European Union, awarded the girl €30,000 in damages and her mother €15,000.

Elsewhere, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said the ruling reaffirms what the court's case law is in relation to access to abortion.

It said the judgment underlines the need to reform abortion law, in countries such as Ireland and Poland.

The Polish girl's case was very similar to a case taken by three Irish women two years ago in which the court also ruled in their favour.

Mark Kelly, of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, said: "It is deeply regrettable that two years after the judgment, Ireland has yet to bring abortion laws in line with the European Convention of Human Rights."