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10 April 2016

      



Jan-Aage Torp interviews Jan Simonsen
about Barnevern



This video interview is in Norwegian, with texting in English. Translation by Marianne Skånland.

Jan-Aage Torp interviews Jan Simonsen about Barnevern
Evgeni Dyakonov, 10 April 2016

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The original interview is 30 minutes long, covering several different topics, video by Henning Lunde, produced for Restoration Oslokirken.no, published 27 March 2016.

The part about Barnevern is reproduced here by the generous permission of Jan-Aage Torp.

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The interview is also available with Russian texting:

Интервью Ян Оге Торп с Ян Симонсен о Барневерн
Evgeni Dyakonov, 10 April 2016

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The interview part about Barnevernet:


Jan-Aage Torp:

We have talked about Barnevernet – the Norwegian child protection system.
And you live part of the year in the Czech Republic, where a strong focus has been on Norway and our system of child protection. How did this situation arise from the Czech side?


Jan Simonsen:

It started with a case concerning a Czech mother. At first there were both a mother and a father, but they are divorced now. The case started when a kindergarten nanny thought that one of their two sons had said that his father had touched him on his pyjamas, on the outside.

The result was that the two sons were taken from their parents immediately, in a so-called emergency decision, and placed with foster parents.

The there was an investigation carried out by the police, and it showed that this was not true. Nothing untoward had happened.

But the mother - who was by then divorced - did not get her children back, they were kept by the foster parents.

And a decision was passed: The mother was allowed to meet her two sons twice a year, for half an hour each time. But she was not allowed to hug them, nor to speak with them in Czech.


Torp:

Is it true?


Simonsen:

Oh yes, because they are not supposed to attach themselves to their mother again, they are to be attached to the foster parents. That is the current way of thinking.

But the grandparents came on Czech tv telling the story about this. The Grandfather misses his grandchildren terribly, of course. And it caused enormous reactions, it was all over the tv channels for a long time.

And then the journalists started investigating and showing an interest in Norwegian Barnevernet, and the politicians did too.

Then the case was taken up by the Czech National Assembly, which has passed a resolution; the Czech president has spoken in very strong condemnation, saying Barnevernet is a Nazi system; the prime minister has addressed Norway. The case has also been taken up by the Human Rights Committee of the European Parliament; there have been large demonstrations against Norway outside the Norwegian Embassy on several occasions.

Today many Czechs associate two things only with Norway: whaling and Barnevern. "Barnevern" has become a term of abuse, really. It is no longer translated into English, you see, people do not talk of a "child protective system" or anything like that, they just talk of "Barnevernet". Both in Czech and in English.


Torp:

So Norwegian "Barnevern" has become a term of insult?


Simonsen:

Yes, in Czechia, and now in Romania, and soon all over the world, it seems. For there was a sequel:

A Romanian family up in Naustdal lost their children in an emergency decision last November, on a suspicion that they had been spanked. And this was a very devoted family, a decent, Christian family. All who have voiced an opinion, relatives, friends, acquaintances of this couple, praise them highly, saying they have been such a harmonious family.

And afterwards, on the two occations when the parents have been allowed to meet their children, the children have cried and been deeply unhappy, and have wanted to go back to their parents.

It is easy to understand: Almost six months have passed, waiting for the case to come up before the court. Think how painful this has been for the family, not least how traumatic and destructive for the children already, even if – I believe, or at least I hope – the parents win in court.

Anyway, this case has led to very large demonstrations against Norwegian Barnevern in Romania and the rest of the world. In January - February, all in all some 70,000 people demonstrated against Barnevernet in 40 different cities. It is fantastic.

I took part in the demonstration and gave a talk outside the Norwegian Embassy in Prague. We called out, "Shame on Norway! Shame on Norway!" Then the procession went to the building where the distribution of Norwegian EU contributions is handled. There they shouted, "Keep your money! Keep your money!"

Altogether, then, this has made a lot of stir and unrest around the world, and it is high time that Norwegian politicians take it in and understand that this criticism has a reason, and that they must do something about it.


Torp:

You mentioned high officials and politicians who have spoken about it and you mentioned the comprehensive demonstrations. But I know that you also focus on work in the parliamentary sector, on an international level? Can you say something more about that?


Simonsen:

Last year, this case was taken up by Parliament in the Czech Republic, which passed a resolution about what Norwegian child protection ought to be like. It was very good and Norwegian parliamentary representatives should indeed just copy it!

Then, a Czech Christian-Democrat member of the EU parliament took it up, in collaboration with another parliament member from a party which could be described as a sister party of the Norwegian Progress Party.

They have since coordinated a group of parlamentarians in the EU parliament who have a group coordinating action. This matter has been up before the European Parliament at least twice, and each time there has been some support from parliamentarians from many countries.

So here we have an established system, a body which facilitates action. New demonstrations are coming: On 16 April there will be demonstrations in 10 different time zones all around the world. It is hoped, then, by the arrangers, that there will be over 100,000 people out on the streets to demonstrate against Norway.


Torp:

This simply gives hope that your contribution in international political work will lead somewhere?


Simonsen:

There is no doubt that all this has by and by started to put pressure on Norwegian Barnevernet and on Norwegian authorities. But it took a long time.

So we must hope that the pressure leads to more than talk, that it leads to action – at least that there will be some instruction from the Minister to Barnevernet about not executing emergency decisions without any previous investigation, and that they should act the way they – untruthfully – claim that they do, that is: only take children away from their parents when there is grave care failure, violence or sexual abuse.

Because that is the answer which journalists from abroad get when they call Barnevernet. Barnevernet always says: We cannot go into individual cases, because there is an obligation to be silent, but children are only taken as an absolutely last resort.

And that, of course, is indirectly a harsh attack on the family which has lost its child. Indirectly they say that there has been very serious care failure, and violence. But in reality it turns out that that is untrue. Because most children are taken from their parents if there is what they call a lack of parental ability.

And that is a subjective assessment made by some Barnevern bureaucrat or other, who believes that the mother does not have good enough eye contact with the child when Barnevernet has been visiting, or she seems nervous or something - often used arguments. So it simply isn't true.

Now, then, the Minister must take an active part, must say clearly to Barnevernet that their practice must be that which they claim it to be.

  
Torp:

As I have said so many times in the programs: I am happy to meet people who have opinions, and who want them to lead somewhere.

And I can really say about Jan Simonsen: This is a man who is willing to do something, to find constructive ways, to stand with people even when they have been beaten down, and help them get up.

So it has been a pleasure to meet you again, Jan Simonsen. I look forward to the next report from you.

On this note we conclude yet another edition of "The real world" with Jan-Aage Torp, here on Miracle Revival Channel.

God bless you! Until we meet again: All the best!


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