10 May 2016
A recipe for
Speech at the
demonstration outside the Norwegian parliament on 16 April
Arne Seland is a lawyer
who has worked in the judicial system for the last 20
years. His special fields are criminal law, child
protection and child custody cases. He is also an active
writer of articles and a debater of social issues such
as the rule of law in a human rights perspective.
In Norway we do everything in children's best interest.
That's what it says in the law!
But in fact, actually, we know that every time children's
interests come into conflict with other interests, then the
children must take second place.
In Norway, unendingly many children are taken by
Barnevernet each year.
And it is increasing. It has increased by several thousand
cases over just a few years.
And we don't even know why it happens. The reason why we
don't know is that we haven't investigated. We probably
There is one guarantee not to have your children taken away
in Norway: social status. I have seen incredibly many
children be deprived of their parents. But I have never
seen a doctor, never a lawyer, never a police officer,
never a journalist have their child taken away. That's the
way it is.
This is about quite fundamental human rights. Human rights
are there for the weakest. In Norway we have, with the best
of intentions, taken from our children their fundamental
Take a look at the confidentiality obligation of doctors
and psychologists, for example. Three years ago it was
altered, so that they are no longer duty-bound to keep
silent, now they have the duty of telling all. To
The consequence is that parents, patients, do not tell
their doctors the truth.
Of course further consequences follow. The consequence is
that Barnevernet takes all they can get hold of from
doctors, from psychologists, and then they interpret it
themselves. They are not interested in what the doctor will
say about it, because they themselves know best.
Again and again I have tried to get Barnevernet to talk
with the doctors, who have felt misunderstood by
Barnevernet. But Barnevernet refuses.
The other requirement is openness in the judicial system.
This is an absolutely fundamental necessity for all human
rights, and for all rule of law.
In Norway we have no openness when it comes to the weakest
in this world. We have even created a special court, called
Fylkesnemnda (the County Board).
And in Oslo we have a special group of lawyers who take
cases to the County Board. The group is called
Familieetaten (The Family Unit). There is a good municipal
lawyer in Oslo, but we do not use the municipal lawyer for
child protection cases. If the children were to be given
priority, why do we not employ the best lawyers for cases
concerning them? No, we employ the Family Unit.
So then we have Barnevernet, the Family Unit, the County
Board, against the poor little mother or father.
It is a recipe for disaster for Norwegian children.
When the case arrives in Tingretten (the District Court),
which is a functioning institution in Norway, it is usually
too late. So much has happened which is wrong that it is
incredibly difficult to put it right. And even if the
District Court in Norway is good, we have even there a
closed system in child cases.
The Norwegian system is a recipe for disaster for Norwegian
Thank you! And all the best to everybody!