Norway Refuses to Reunite Mother With Her Son Despite Ruling by European Court of Human Rights

The Norwegian government is refusing to reunite a mother and her son despite Europe’s top human rights court ruling last month that the country’s child services agency violated the mother’s parental rights by allowing foster parents to adopt her son against her will.

According to human rights advocate Marius Reikeras, mother Trude Lobben has been issued a six-month restraining order by local police barring her from contacting her 11-year-old son to tell him that they were victorious before the Grand Chamber of European Court of Human Rights.

Lobben’s son was taken into the custody of Norway’s controversial child services agency, Barnevernet, when he was just a few weeks old.

About a month after the child was born, he was taken into compulsory care over concerns about Lobben’s parenting skills and whether the child was getting enough food. The child was placed in foster care and was adopted by his foster parents years later in 2011.

The grand chamber’s Sept. 10 ruling states that authorities in Lobben’s case “failed from the outset to pursue the aim of reuniting the child with his mother” and “rather immediately envisaged that he would grow up in the foster home.”

As a result, the court found that the Barnevernet violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights guaranteeing respect for the right to “private and family life.”

The ruling marks the first time the grand chamber has found that Norway violated parental rights in a removal-and-adoption case although Barnevernet has long been criticized by international rights advocates for removing children from their parents over arbitrary concerns.

The grand chamber ordered the Norwegian government to pay Lobben the equivalent of about $27,000 in damages and about $10,000 for costs and expenses.

However, there is disagreement between the family and government over whether the ruling requires the government to reunite the child with his biological mother.

Reikeras told The Christian Post in an interview that the court’s ruling in favor of Lobben requires the state to give custody of the son to his birth mother.

But the Norwegian ministry of children and families indicated in a letter to the Norwegian Parliament late last month that it will pay the fine issued by the court but will not give Lobben custody of the child, Reikeras explained.

“That means that the minister has given a specific answer to the Parliament saying that the only consequence of the judgment is to pay out [$27,000],” Reikeras said. “By saying that, they say they have no intention to reunify the mother and the son.”

“That means they are still continuing to violate their rights,” he continued. “The judgment is very clear. Violations have been found. Norway has violated even the most fundamental rights and it’s on Norway to start to abide with the judgment.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith