February 28, 2017
The Bodnariu family case in Norway sparked angry protests around the globe. The powerful and well-funded child welfare agency called Barnevernet removed the family’s five children for no obvious reason. International investigations uncovered the Norwegian authorities’ real concerns, which were that the children were being “indoctrinated” by their parents’ religious beliefs. An international outcry followed, forcing the Barnevernet to close the case and release the children back to their family.
Encouraged by the public awareness, many other parents in Norway approached human rights organizations such as ADF International claiming that the Barnevernet was also holding their children in permanent care without any basis.
The allegations have now reached the Council of Europe, the continent’s principal institution safeguarding human rights, democracy and the rule of law across 47 member states, and home to the European Court of Human Rights. While it is Norway’s Child Protection Services currently in the spotlight, the findings of these investigations will have ramifications for families across Europe.
States have no right to permanently remove children from their families without compelling reasons and in extraordinary circumstances. It is not only Norway facing criticism on this front. If state intervention in families is no longer seen as an emergency measure of last resort, Christian parents could be targeted for “indoctrinating” their children by teaching them their beliefs.ADF International