The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has granted asylum to Silje Garmo. The Norwegian, together with her daughter, escaped from her home country to protect herself and the child from the Children's Office (Barnevernet). The lawyers of Ordo Iuris represented Silje Garmo before the Polish authorities in matters related to asylum protection. Thousands of Poles have given their support to the woman by signing a petition on this matter. Polish and foreign media have become interested in the fate of the Norwegian.
In January, the Polish Office for Foreigners stated that family life protected by international law is at risk in this case. According to the officials, there were "objective reasons to assume that granting asylum to Mrs Silje Garmo and her minor daughter, Eira Garmo, is necessary to ensure the protection of the aforementioned foreigners". However, another opinion was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which decided that granting asylum protection to the woman and the child is not "in the interest of the Republic of Poland". The Ministry based this decision, inter alia, on an assessment of Polish political and economic interests. Therefore, the Ordo Iuris Institute submitted an application for reconsideration of the case by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
After several months, the decision to refuse asylum was revoked. This is the basis for the decision of the President of the Office for Foreigners. He had previously supported the plea of Ordo Iuris lawyers, so the finalisation of granting of asylum protection to Silje Garmo and her daughter is a purely formal issue.
In 2018, a report criticising the Norwegian Barnevernet system was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The European Court of Human Rights, furthermore, ruled that the Norwegian system of foster custody infringes international guarantees of family life (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights). The Ordo Iuris report on Barnevernet was presented in September during the OSCE conference in Warsaw.
‘The decision of the Minister of Foreign Affairs confirms that the Republic of Poland is firmly committed to upholding the fundamental constitutional principle of the protection of family life. The decision of Polish authorities is also a source of hope for Poles living in Norway, who often face the same problems as Silje Garmo. Asylum for a Norwegian mother and her daughter is an impulse for Norway, where there is still a debate about the need to reform the Barnevernet system. On a European scale, Poland is once again taking part in the debate on the protection of families persecuted by authorities such as Barnevernet or Jugendamt’, commented the President of the Ordo Iuris Institute, Jerzy Kwaśniewski, attorney of Silje and Eira Garmo.
The case for asylum was handled by the attorneys: Jerzy Kwaśniewski, Bartosz Lewandowski, PhD, Filip Wołoszczak and Maciej Kryczka.
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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.
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