Norway and Sweden – where inhuman rights prevail by Siv Westerberg

This article was first published on 7 May 2012 by Pravasi Today in Delhi. Pravasi Today has later unfortunately ceased publication and their website has been taken down. The article was also published on Forum Redd Våre Barn (Forum Rescue Our Children), on 3 December 2012 and on  the website of prominent CPS critic Prof. Marianne Skanland on 11 November 2017.  It is republished here on 6 December 2017. This article was written at the time of the Bhattacharya Case in Norway  (referred to in the article as the “Indian-Norwegian case”).

Mrs Siv Westerberg is a very well-known Swedish lawyer practicing in Göteborg (Gothenburg). Clients from all over Sweden have sought her help over the years. A major speciality of hers is human rights relating to family law. She has had 9 cases against Sweden admitted to the European Court of Human Rights and has won 7 of them. She has also written numerous articles on these topics in Swedish, English and German.

For the last 30 years I have devoted a lot of time to helping parents get their children back after the Swedish state has committed the same cruelties to them as the Norwegian state did to the Indian family recently.

Sweden and Norway have similar legislation and similar legal usage concerning family law. In my law-practice in Sweden I therefore follow with interest what happens in that field in Norway also and I recognise many issues in Norwegian cases from similar cases in Sweden.

I have brought some of my Swedish cases concerning compulsory taking of children into care to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg (http://www.echr.coe.int/echr). There Sweden has been condemned for having violated my clients’ human rights. Sweden was condemned to pay damages to the parents and in some of my cases also to the children. Sweden has paid the damages. But in some of those cases Sweden nevertheless did not give the children back to their parents.

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The first case I brought to the ECHR was the Olsson case: Olsson I against Sweden 1988 and later Olsson II against Sweden 1992 (the verdicts can be found on the ECHR website). The Olsson case started in a similar way to the Indian-Norwegian case.

In the Indian-Norwegian case  I suppose the young Indian mother was exhausted after childbirth and breast-feeding, and tired from the work that goes with taking care of two small children at the same time that she has to take care of all the other work in a household. What such an exhausted mother needs is some help with e.g. washing the kitchen floor, doing the laundry, and going out to shop food for the family. If she had lived in India she would surely have got that help from her relatives. But she was in Norway, for her a foreign country where she did not understand the language. She and her husband were also worried about their son’s behaviour in kindergarten and wanted to find out if he needed medical attention of some sort. If the Norwegian Child Protection Service (CPS) wanted to assist the family with appropriate help, they could have sent a practical home assistant for a couple of hours a day. But they did not do that. They sent a social worker who was instructed not to give any help in the household but to spy on the mother and give reports to the CPS.

In the Olsson case in Sweden the situation was that the oldest of the three children had a multi-handicap. A child with such a handicap often has the problem of not being accepted by other children as a playmate. So the Olsson parents wanted to find some pleasant occupation for their handicapped little boy. They asked the social service if they could help find something interesting for their son to do.

Instead of giving that kind of help, the social service sent a “home therapist” to the Olsson family. This home therapist was a 60-year-old woman, unmarried with no children. She had no kind of education for a profession as “home therapist”. Just like in the Indian-Norwegian case she started giving Mrs Olsson orders: about different kitchen procedures, about when the family should get up in the morning and where Mrs Olsson should put the laundry, and commanded the family to go out for walks together with herself.

Most housewives cannot stand another woman coming into their home and deciding what the housewife should do. Mrs Olsson could not stand it either. So after some days Mr and Mrs Olsson told the home therapist to get out of their home.

The revenge of the social service was to take all three Olsson children into compulsory care and place them in three different foster families very far from the parents and very far from each other. So the Olsson children lost both their parents and their siblings.

One of the accusations against the Olssons was that they refused to cooperate with the social service when they did not accept to have the home therapist in their home. But the main accusation was that the social service declared that Mr and Mrs Olsson were mentally retarded. When the Olssons came to my law-office about a year after the compulsory taking of the children had happened, my first step was to send them for an intelligence test. The test was carried out by a psychologist who was a university teacher of psychology. The test result was that Mr and Mrs Olsson were not at all mentally retarded. Mr Olsson even had an intelligence quotient slightly above the mean.

When social services employ such methods – something they unfortunately regularly do – any family living in Sweden or Norway is running the risk of losing their children.

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Just at present we have in Sweden a cruel example of what can happen to a family immigrating to Sweden.

Nathalia, a Russian journalist, is the mother of two girls. They are twins and now 14 years old. The girls are steady, intelligent and have artistic talent. They play the piano, dance ballet, draw and write. Nathalia has always done everything to stimulate their talents. The girls used to say that their mother is “the best mother in the world”.

As a journalist in Russia and the Ukraine, Nathalia wrote articles in the newspapers that were critical of the government. But such behaviour is not popular in those countries. Nathalia and her daughters were harassed by the authorities, so they decided to emigrate. They got permission to immigrate into Sweden as UN refugees. Nathalia was promised both housing and a job in Sweden. That was about 3 years ago. When, after a year and a half, she still had no job and they had to live in a primitive furnished flat in a house for refugees, she complained to the staff in the house concerning the standard there.

The revenge of the staff was that they reported to the social service that Nathalia was too strict with the girls. As a result, the social workers together with the police came to the girls’ school and, using violence, took the girls to a foster home very far from Nathalia. It happened 500 days ago and Nathalia and the girls have not seen each other since. They are also forbidden to have any contact by telephone or letters.

The foster parents are primitive people with no intellectual or artistic interests. The girls are after school forced by the foster parents to work as farmhands in the foster parents’ garden and stable.

For keeping these two 14-year old girls in prison-like conditions, the foster family receives from the Swedish authorities a sum of 2,080,000 Swedish crowns a year, e.g. the equivalent of about 310,000 US dollars.

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I hope that the Indian government’s protest against what Norway did will spread around the world so that lots of governments protest against how Norway and Sweden behave to children and parents. Some lawyers here who are familiar with many such cases and engaged in trying to help families prevent family destruction, estimate that only 10-20 per cent are cases that are necessary, e.g. because of abuse or neglect by parents who are alcoholics or heavy drug abusers and do not take care of their children. In other words, as many as possibly 90 per cent are trumped up cases, completely negative for the children, and altogether unjustified.

 

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