Europe’s top human rights court has agreed to hear the case of a Christian family that fled Norway after their five children were seized for months by the Scandinavian country’s controversial child protective services agency.
“Parents have the right to direct the upbringing of their children,” Robert Clarke, director of European advocacy for Alliance Defending Freedom International, which is representing the family, said in a statement. “Norway intervened in the family life of the Bodnariu family by taking the five children into state care without any compelling reason.”
The Bodnariu family is a Romanian Pentecostal family whose five children were removed over allegations that parents spanked their children in November 2015. The nonprofit legal group ADF International contends that the family’s religion also played some role in the removal.
After the children were removed by the Barnevernet, Norway’s child services agency, several protests were held at Norwegian embassies worldwide to call for the children to be returned to parents Ruth and Marius Bodnariu.
The children were ultimately returned to the parents’ home in June 2016 after over six months of outcry.
The family then fled Norway, according to ADF International. The parents had lived in Norway for about a decade before they fled.
The European Court of Human Rights will hear the case.
“Removing children from their families should always be a last resort,” said Clarke. “Recent years have seen an increasing number of cases of overreach by the Norwegian state into family life, with numerous cases coming before the European Court of Human Rights.”
Although it was initially believed that the children were removed over the parents’ use of corporal punishment (which is illegal in Norway), ADF International asserts that a further investigation revealed that “officials in the community felt that the children were being ‘indoctrinated’ by their parents’ Christian beliefs.”
However, critics had previously pushed back against the claim of religious motivation for the children’s removal.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith