Oslo, Norway
15 November 2014

Russia is alarmed at Norwegian child protection (CPS)

by Marianne Haslev Skånland

Russia has for a long time been concerned at the way the the Norwegian child protection services split Russian families in Norway, taking children away from their parents. There have been numerous articles and programs in the Russian media, and the Russian Children's Ombudsman is now working together with Russia's Foreign Ministry to have the Norwegian CPS stopped.

Russisk kritikk mot norsk barnevern  [Russian criticism of Norwegian CPS]
Den russiske barneombudsmannen beskylder Norge for terror, og hevder at norske myndigheter i 55 tilfeller har begått overgrep mot russiske foreldre. [The Russian Children's Ombudsman accuses Norway of terror, and claims that Norwegian authorities have in 55 cases violated the rights of Russian parents.]
nrk (the national, public broadcasting company), 15 November 2014

It is equally important, usually even more so, to note that these family destructions are a violation of the children's rights. – The reason why this is rarely mentioned - regarding affected Norwegian families as well – is probably that the children are to an even lesser degree than their parents able to stand up and let their voice be heard. But it is important that this aspect is emphasised more clearly. The right to enjoy one's family life is a mutual right for parents and children (cf the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) Article 8).

Russia's criticism is also directed against Finland, which carries out child protection in the same way as Norway. There have been cases of destructive CPS actions in which Finland has been found guilty of human rights violations at the Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg (see especially "K & T v. Finland").

Russians seem to direct their thinking about the CPS in wrong directions on two points: They apparently believe that Norway takes Russian children from their parents "for på den måten å svekke hele det russiske samfunnet" [in order to weaken all of Russian society], and they seem to think that this kind of CPS behaviour is confined to a few countries: Norway and Finland are mentioned.

The first point: The Russian 'explanation' of Norwegian CPS actions seems rather paranoid and is misguided. It would be a fairly helpless way for Norway to 'weaken' Russia and when Russia suggests it as the explanation, they weaken their own position instead. Foreigners are over-represented among families targeted by Norwegian CPS but CPS accusations and actions affect thousands of Norwegian families also (the statistics presented are not totally clear but apparently there are about a thousand 'new' children being taken under CPS jurisdiction every year). The accusations levelled against parents and children of foreign families in Norway are of the same kind as the accusations used to justify the forcible taking of Norwegian children. There is no special attack on Russia and the behaviour of the CPS has nothing to do with more general, international politics; the destructions carried out by Norwegian CPS have been going on for several decades.

The second point: The type of state directed protection of children which Norway engages in is frequent in the whole Western world, and it is on the increase.
    An example is that the Court of Human Rights is now receiving a large number of complaints from parents in Britain. This is clearly a result of policies promoted at present: The authorities urge the CPS there to take children from their supposedly 'unfit' parents earlier, parental rights are quashed and the children adopted away, preventing parents who have been pushed aside from going to court. In Britain there are also strong limitations to the freedom of speech in CPS cases. Even parents just talking about what the social services have done in their case, can be enough to send them to prison:

The facts about child snatching can be reported in Norway - but not here
By Christopher Booker
28 January 2012

The media gives victims of the social services "the silent treatment"
By Arild Holta
4 July / 10 July 2012

    An internet search would also tell the Russians that such attacks on families by CPS agencies are carried out in the USA, Canada and also Australia. Among the Nordic countries of Europe, Sweden has the most aggressive CPS of all, cf

Norway and Sweden – where inhuman rights prevail
By Siv Westerberg
7 May / 3 December 2012

Foster-children as lucrative business
By Siv Westerberg
February 2005 / 25 January 2014

Child prisons? In Sweden?
By Siv Westerberg
1995 / October 1998 / 4 October 2006

These two misunderstandings aside – misunderstandings that seem to stem from the Russian officials taking up this action not having informed themselves thoroughly about the basis and history of Norwegian CPS nor about the wider, international picture – what Russia is saying and doing in taking up these CPS abuses is absolutely right. If the Russian authorities stand firm and do not drop the question when they get nowhere by trying to talk sense with Norway, then their protests will be of help – even to Norwegians damaged by the same CPS (although Norwegians have done nothing to deserve help from abroad since we have, and have had for years, ample opportunity to wake up and take action ourselves but have not done so except individually when the horrors strike our own immediate family.)

Russian authorities want to take up the actions of the Norwegian CPS against Russian children in the Council of Europe.

It seems a good plan, because the European Convention on Human Rights was established by the Concil and all member states are obliged to abide by it. The European Court of Human Rights is therefore an instrument of the Council.

What we must hope for is that Russia joins in concerted action together with other nations on this question. A solid foundation was laid in India a copule of years ago. It deserves to be followed up.

Understanding and Responding to Child Confiscation by Social Service Agencies
by Suranya Aiyar
09 May 2012

Norway NRI kids row: The Untold Story by Sagarika Bhattacharya
25 May 2012

The iron hand that rocks the cradle
by Marianne Haslev Skånland
05 February 2012

The curious case of 'child protection' in Norway
by Marianne Haslev Skånland
12 April / 20 April 2012

Norwegian child protection hits immigrants hard
By Aage Simonsen
4 July / 10 July 2012

Child protection and the law
By Joar Tranoy
4 July / 10 July 2012

British press discovers the child 'protection' racket?
by Marianne Haslev Skånland
22 April 2012

Indians join Slovaks in protesting against UK child snatchers
by Christopher Booker
27 October 2014

Petition to the Indian National Human Rights Commission: Indians want their government to guard against western CPS
12 October / 16 October 2012

Suranya Aiyar, Lawyer & critic of foreign confiscatory child care regimes
At Press Conference held on 12 October 2012 at the Women’s Press Club, New Delhi

Press coverage of the launch of the petition
October 2012

The Confiscation of the Bhattacharya Children by Norwegian Authorities – A Case Study –
12 October 2012

When Malaysians are attacked by Western child protection - what to do?
by Marianne Haslev Skånland
5 February / 20 February 2014

A couple of newspapers, up in the very north of Norway – quite close to Russia – printed a brief notice of the Russian protest, under the title Russisk barneombud anklager Norge for "barneterror" [Russian Children's ombudsman accuses Norway of "child terror"]. Later on the same day the content had been changed to include Norway's counter-attack and a new title given which emphasised this:

Norge reagerer på russisk barnevern-kritikk [Norway reacts against Russian CPS criticism]
Framtid i Nord, 15 November 2014

Norge reagerer på russisk barnevern-kritikk
Altaposten, 15 November 2014