A citizen of Norway fleeing from unauthorized intervention of the Child Welfare Service (Barnevernet) found refuge in Poland. Lawyers of the Ordo Juris Institute submitted on her behalf an application for asylum, indicating violation of international law by Barnevernet. Now, the future of the family depends solely on the decision of Polish authorities.
The Ordo Iuris Insitute was contacted by a citizen of Norway, Silje Garmo, who together with her 8-month-old daughter fled to Poland after several months of surveillance by the notorious Norwegian Child Welfare Service (Barnevernet) that threatened to take her child away even before birth. The reason for the intervention was a "chronic fatigue syndrome" and abuse of Paracetamol that the mother was accused of. The accusations of officials were not supported by evidence.
After arriving in Poland, Silje Garmo requested assistance of the Ordo Juris Institute. Earlier, the Institute supported Polish families in the fight against Barnevernet. After examining the case, also in Norway, Ordo Iuris lawyers prepared on behalf of the mother and her 8-month-old daughter an asylum application, filed on 31.08.2017 to the Head of the Office for Foreigners in Warsaw. In their letter, they presented the argumentation that granting asylum to the beneficiary of Ordo Iuris was necessary to safeguard the mother’s and her underage daughter’s fundamental rights guaranteed by international standards. At the same time, protection of the child and the mother against arbitrary intervention in family life, violating international standards, constitutes implementation of the norms of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and the interests of the Republic of Poland, guarding the family, parenthood and welfare of the child, expressed in the right to education by biological parents. In the opinion of Ordo Juris lawyers, actions of the Norwegian administration against Silje Garmo and her daughter violated i.a. article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which guarantees respect for family and private life, article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which obliges the State to respect the right of the child to remain and to be brought up by biological parents.
Jerzy Kwaśniewski, Vice President of the Institute, remarked that Ordo Iuris is getting more and more signals about Norwegian families seeking shelter in Poland. Application for asylum for Silje Garmo is a precedent, and many Norwegians are waiting for the decision of the Polish authorities, hoping that it is in Poland that they will find justice.
The Norwegian system of interference in the family, including by the Child Welfare Service (Barnevernet), is the subject of eight proceedings pending before the European Court of Human Rights, in which the grieving parents complain about inhuman practices of the authority taking their children away. Reasons for that are usually trivial: "chronic fatigue" of the mother, poor financial conditions, parental conflict. Sometimes Barnevernet openly undermines the right of parents to upbringing, as in the famous case of Romanian parents accused of "radical Christianity and ideological indoctrination" just because their daughter sang a Christian song at school.
Children of Polish emigrants often fall prey to the Norwegian service. Taken away, they end up with caretakers who do not speak Polish, and often manifest hostility towards cultivating the child’s national or religious traditions. The 1996 Hague Convention on jurisdiction, ratified by Norway in 2016, should help Polish families who decide to return to Poland after initiation of proceedings and after Barnevernet has taken their children away. However, to this day the Norwegian party has not fulfilled its obligations to cooperate in this regard.
The Ordo Iuris Institute will present the case of Silije Garmo on 20.09.2017 during the OSCE conference in Warsaw, pointing to the mechanism of functioning of the Norwegian Child Welfare Service (Barnevernet) as an example of systemic violation of the right to respect for family life and the right to a fair trial, and the rights of the child.
On behalf of the Institute, Silje Garmo and her daughter are represented by Jerzy Kwaśniewski, Esq., and Filip Wołoszczak, Esq.
We invite you to read the analysis of Jerzy Kwasniewski, Esq., of the functioning of Barnevernet in Norway.
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• The European Commission has filed a number of charges against Poland.
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