5 February 2019

Erik Bryn Tvedt, lawyer:
Who is taken care of in child protection cases?

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This article was originally published in Norwegian in Aftenposten on 31 August 2018, as 'Hvem ivaretas i barnevernssaker?'.
An English translation is published here with the author's kind consent.

The ministry concerned with children has since been somewhat re-defined and is now called the Ministry of Children and Families.
Translation: Marianne Haslev Skånland
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Minister Linda Helleland (the Conservative Party) of the Ministry of Children and Equality believes that Norway is a country leading the way as regards protecting children and youths against abuse, and says that the rights of children are as valuable as those of the parents. I wonder if it is so. Through several hundred child protection cases before county boards and courts I have had the experience that children's interest in belonging to their "flock", their kin, is not adequately taken care of.

I often have observed that parents with modest resources, who struggle with imposing limits on their children's behaviour, are deprived of their children. The children are then sent out on futile nomadic migration to ever new foster parents who are not genuinely concerned about the child in the way the biological family was. Such processes are initiated by the various services under the Ministry, such as Barnevernet and the county boards. Only after a long time can the case be brought to an independent power: the courts. But by then the case has been cemented – through various assessments and decisions, often running to several hundred pages and composed by the services which deprived the parents of the child – cemented to such an extent that it is very difficult to achieve a return.

In a state under the rule of law, a decision to take a child by emergency decision from its home should immediately and within 48 hours, like in imprisonment cases, be brought before a court. The Ministry of Children and Equality prevents an efficient and just procedure in child protection cases.