Europe’s top human rights court ruled Tuesday that Norway’s controversial child services agency violated a mother’s rights by forcibly adopting her son to a foster family years after he was removed from her custody at three weeks old.
The grand chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in France ruled 13 to 4 that the Norwegian CPS agency known as Barnevernet violated section 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of Strand Lobben and Others v. Norway.
The court concluded that the agency infringed on Trude Lobben and her son’s rights to family life as Barnevernet is accused of not providing adequate examination into Lobben’s parenting skills or adequate analysis to back up its claim that the child was vulnerable and that adoption was in his best interest.
The child, who is now 11 years old, was removed from Lobben’s custody in 2008 and later adopted to a foster family in 2011.
“Human rights advocates have been highlighting the destructive practices of the Barnevernet for years. This ruling is a step in the right direction for parental rights in Norway and beyond,” Lobben’s lawyer, Grégory Thuan Dit Dieudonne, said in a statement released through ADF International. “Even a positive judgment cannot make up the precious 10 years this family has lost at the hands of the Norwegian state.”
For years, Barnevernet has received much criticism from the international community for removing children from their parents’ custody for seemingly arbitrary reasons. In a number of cases, families have fled the Scandinavian country because of what they alleged to be Barnevernet’s aggressive treatment.
On social media, critics of Barnevernet’s practices are hopeful that the ECHR judgment in favor of Lobben is a sign that Norway will be held accountable for what many say is the unlawful removal of children.
“I almost don’t know what to say. But this must have consequences. And then I’m glad the decision can help many others who have experienced injustice from child welfare,” Lobben told Norway’s TV 2 after the reading of the court’s decision.
Lobben’s first child was born in September 2008 after having difficulties during pregnancy.
Lobben turned to child welfare authorities for help after the child was born and accepted an offer to stay at a family center for evaluation during the first month of her son’s life.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith