A silent scandal has long been brewing in Norway, one of the richest European states, as the country's government is being accused of "kidnapping" children from their parents.
Barnevernet, the Norwegian child protection service, has become a nightmare for some families.
"I've been dealing with this issue since 2010," Norwegian attorney Marius Reikeras told Sputnik. "There were cases of unreasonable interference in family matters and unjustified deprivation of parental rights. I want to say that either those parents were first-class actors who could be awarded Oscar, or what we had witnessed was a government fraud."
"Barnevernet can take children away without a court decision: It is enough just to notify the police," the lawyer elaborated. "Then six guys in uniforms knock on the door of a certain family, and it escalates from there. The justification for the intervention is the magic word 'emergency'."
He said that he had consulted with lawyers from all over the world and noted that American and Australian attorneys view this practice as nothing short of crazy.
"In accordance with European practice, children are taken away from their parents under the care of the state only for the period necessary to solve problems in the family," the lawyer explained. "Then these kids are returned to their biological parents, but not in Norway, where human rights are being violated, and moreover, on a mass scale."
According to Reikeras, this practice is no accident. The lawyer presumed that it had something to do with money. Besides, some cases seem to have a racial motive, he noted, referring to a Norwegian family of Swedish and Pakistan origins. This family fled Norway to Dubai in order to protect its children from Barnevernet. Reikeras believes that the child protection service is largely targeting socially vulnerable groups.
The attorney believes that Norwegian courts are literally hostile to human rights: "Everyone must obey the Supreme Court's decisions," he stressed. "Although Norway is a member of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), it does not play any role here, as we've already seen."
He remarked that those who had fallen prey to Barnevernet were surprised with the biased coverage of their cases in the country's mass media, as the Norwegian press usually justifies the practice deprivation of parental rights exercised by the government agency.
Adding to the controversy, it recently turned out that one of the psychiatrists, whose judgments Barnevernet had relied on, was a pedophile.
"Because of that man, several parental couples were deprived of their rights to raise their own children," Reikeras emphasized. "The same person collected images of child pornography on his computer."
According to Forbes, the Norwegian government's practice of violating the rights for family life was first brought into the spotlight by the ECHR in 1996. The media outlet noted that Barnevernet's "excessive intervention" in family affairs, especially in relation to foreign parents, had already triggered an international outcry.
In 2014 the Russian Investigative Committee launched an inquiry into the numerous cases of confiscation of children from Russian families living in Norway and their placement in protective custody.
In 2015 the Czech Republic's president, Milos Zeman, called upon the King of Norway, Harald V, asking him to help return two Czech boys who had earlier been taken from their parents and placed in foster care.
On August 4, 2018, BBC journalist Tim Whewell, who has been looking into the country's controversial child protection system, released a documentary eloquently titled "Norway's Silent Scandal."
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