Norway is notorious for human rights infringements, in particular when it comes to family and children's rights. This has been proved by the case of Silje Garmo, a Norwegian woman who was granted asylum in Poland after she escaped unjustified intrusion into her family life by the Child Welfare Services – Barnevernet. This case was the main topic of a meeting in Strasburg visited by politicians, experts and representatives of social organisations from different countries brought together under the Council of Europe. Ordo Iuris representatives presented the main assumptions of the report on systemic human rights infringements associated with Barnevernet.
The event was held during the summer session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It was organised by Valeriu Ghiletchi, Vice-President of the Moldavian Parliament during the 2014-2019 term, and Pavel Ungaryan, a Ukrainian MP and initiated by Jan-Aage Torp from Kristen Koalisjon Norge. Valeriu Giletchi is the author of a report adopted by the European Committee of Social Rights which presents a critical view of the oppressive Barnevernet system. The document, which reverberated in the entire Europe, was the fruit of a high-profile case of the Romanian-Norwegian Bondariu family whose five children were seized and placed in three different foster families, as it turns out, without reasonable grounds. The report by the Moldavian politician helped the Polish government issue a favourable decision in the case regarding Silje Garmo – a Norwegian citizen who obtained asylum in Poland together with her daughter. The said politician participated in the last year’s Human Dimention Implementation Meeting organised in Warsaw by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Strasburg event was attended by Ordo Iuris representatives – Jerzy Kwaśniewski, Esq., the President of the Institute, Filip Wołoszczak, Esq., from the Proceedings Intervention Centre and Bartosz Zalewski, Legal Counsel from the Analysis Centre. Kwaśniewski discussed actions taken by Ordo Iuris in public debate on Barnevernet and described how the Institute helps people who have experienced unjustified interventions by the institution.
It was the first public presentation of the assumptions listed in the report on Norwegian Barnevernet produced by the Ordo Iuris expert team. The report demonstrates the legal basis and practice employed by the authority compiled in the course of studies which lasted for many months and were partly confined to the realm of documents and analyses of dozens of international and Norwegian court rulings but also included a visit in Oslo incorporating a number of meetings with the affected families, experts and local social activists. A discussion followed the presentation to provide an opportunity to consult the main arguments proposed in the report with experts distinguished in this field. Valeriu Giletchi explicitly emphasised the importance of the report prepared by Ordo Iuris, claiming that only international pressure may convince Norwegian authorities to change the family policy and reform Barnevernet.
Filip Wołoszczak outlined the history of the asylum proceedings carried out on behalf of Silje Garmo. The Republic of Poland granted asylum to the Norwegian and her daughter owing to the fact that their basic rights guaranteed by international acts were infringed by Norwegian authorities. The Ordo Iuris Institute helped the Norwegian in seeking asylum. In addition, the Institute’s representatives had the chance to listen to a debate held during the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on implementing the provisions of the controversial Istanbul Convention which promotes ideological solutions disguised as a tool for combating domestic violence.
“The rights of families and children are repeatedly and gravely infringed in Norway. As has been shown by the Silje Garmo case, the horror of families whose life is unjustly and profoundly interfered with through Barnevernet can eventually lead to a happy ending. It’s good that such cases are discussed on an international level” – said Filip Wołoszczak, Esq.
The English version of the report prepared by Ordo Iuris will be published in the coming weeks. It is the first such a thorough analysis of Barnevernet activity from the point of view of the international human and children’s rights system.
The European Parliament is going to consider the issue of waiving Guy Verhofstadt's immunity in connection with criminal proceedings initiated by Dr. Bawer Aondo-Akaa before the District Court in Warsaw.
The United Nations has conducted a periodic observance of Poland's implementation of the UN Convention against Torture. The issues examined by the Committee Against Torture, however, have gone beyond the body's task scope.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has received 16 complaints against the Norwegian government from parents. They raise the violation of the parents' right to respect for family life. All of them pertain to the actions of the same institution – Norway's child protection agency, Barnevernet.