Norway’s child services violated fundamental parental right

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights found that Norway’s child welfare services violated the fundamental right to family life. In 2008, a three-week-old child was taken away from his mother based on doubts about her parenting abilities after she had requested support. The child was placed in foster care and his mother was allowed only eight hours of contact per year with her son.
Eventually, all visitation rights were denied, the mother’s parental rights were removed, and the child was put up for adoption.
ADF International intervened before the Grand Chamber, the highest instance of the Court, arguing for greater respect for parental rights in Norway and across Europe, highlighting fundamental issues with Norway’s child welfare service, Barnevernet.
A recent investigation into Norway has shown that without effective safeguards, child protection agencies can cause long-term damage to families, and undermine the right that parents have to raise their children. It is time for Norway to uphold its obligations under international law and protect parental rights.
The Strand Lobben v. Norway case is just one of eight cases at the European Court of Human Rights where Barnevernet is being investigated for the manner in which it has been taking children away from their parents.
We are also intervening in the case of Marius and Ruth Bodnariu who had their five young children taken away by Barnevernet and split between three different households.
Initially, Barnevernet claimed that the children were taken into state care due to allegations of corporal punishment, which is illegal in Norway. However, upon further investigation, the real reason behind the removal of the Bodnariu children was revealed—officials in the community felt that the children were being ‘indoctrinated’ by their parents’ Christian beliefs.
We are deeply concerned by the actions of Barnevernet and want to ensure parents have the right to direct the upbringing of their children. In July, we filed an intervention in Bodnariu v. Norway at the European Court of Human Rights, in order to better protect this right for all parents across Europe.
– ADF International