victory for the child protection demonstrators!
get outside help – and the child protection Minister
By Olav Sylte,
• • •
Olav Sylte is a
Norwegian lawyer who has represented the families in many
child protection cases, and who is also active writing
articles about such issues in e.g. periodicals, newspapers
and on his website
Rett og urett (Justice and
The Norwegian original of this
article, "Brakseier for
published on October 19, 2016.
This English version is published here
with the author's kind consent.
• • •
demonstrate in front of the Norwegian Parliament and are
heatedly active on the internet, their common denominator
being that they think the justice system is not working at
all. At least not when it comes to Norwegian child
protection (CPS) – Barnevernet. Now they may have found
acceptance for being at least partially right.
Norway is in fact no longer considered to be typically best
in class, at least not in an honest way, and this
apparently also applies to child protection and the legal
European Convention on Human Rights
question I am raising here is not that of exploitation of
natural resources, pollution or the use of dope in sports,
but the basic issue of whether Barnevernet's intervention
in families and homes has been "necessary" interference in
these families in the human rights sense.
The alternative is that it may have been grave
transgression of human rights.
Article 8-2 of the European Convention on Human Rights
(ECHR) is the rule that states the requirement of
"necessity", and this is what has been subject to debate
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
reason for taking this up now is that the European Court of
Human Rights (ECtHR) has set in motion this year something
resembling a unique, grand action against our child
protection and justice system.
In a European context, it is rare that something like this
happens. So it does not really surprise me that our
Minister of Children and Equality had to give a rather
sensational statement to the daily news on October
action started with the ECtHR admitting a Norwegian child
protection case about forced adoption, to be considered
under the possibility of violation of ECHR Article 8 last
year. Human rights jurist Marius Reikerås was the one to
submit the case and according to the media, he has had to
move abroad as a result of his activity.
This case has probably, in conjunction with extensive
demonstrations and criticism of the Norwegian child
protection system over the past year, opened a fertile
ground for other cases to get through the narrow needle's
eye which the ECtHR usually keeps.
The action revolves around the investigation of, so far, 7
Norwegian cases, several of them about adoption, and the
question of whether ECHR article 8, including the
requirement of "necessity", has been violated.
( About the action: "Angriper barnevernet –
Storoffensiv mot Norge:
Menneskerettsdomstolen skal granske sju norske
barnevernsaker" (Attacks Barnevernet – Grand
offensive against Norway: The ECtHR is to investigate 7
Norwegian child protection cases) )
Even the fact that so many cases on the same issue have
been admitted for proceedings, justifies the assertion that
child welfare critics have already achieved a resounding
win over Norwegian Barnevernet and the legal system that we
self-criticism on the part of
child protection gives the impression that the opposite has
happened, and pretends that they do not even know of the
ECtHR's recent activity.
To illustrate this, I can mention a case on adoption in
which I represented the parents before a County Board a few
In this case the municipality's lawyer held that the human
rights provision is not even applicable in matters of
adoption, even though adoption is the most intrusive and
serious intervention which the authorities can use against
parents who do not agree to having their child adopted
The municipal lawyer claimed not to have heard anything
about the ECtHR being involved in any proceedings regarding
forced adoption, and had absolutely no knowledge of any
activity of the ECtHR this year.
Certainly the central child protection authorities do not
seem to have issued any instruction to curtail anything.
the Attorney General, who has a habit of supporting the
practice of the authorities, has recently stated that he is
aware that the Norwegian child protection system may have
got "out of control".
This was in the summer. Subsequently, two more Norwegian
cases were admitted to the ECtHR for consideration in the
Court (the number of cases thus being increased from 5 to
( His statement: "Det norske barnevernet under
Barnevernet under close scrutiny) )
headline in the newspaper Dagbladet said that the Minister
of Children and Equality, too, does not rule out the
possibility that Norwegian Barnevernet and the justice
system may systematically have violated human rights, like
the critics have over several years claimed they do. This
at least is my interpretation, based on the newspaper
report, of what the Minister said.
I hope somebody will as soon as possible explain to
Minister Horne that she is in fact responsible and can
issue instructions as she sees fit.
The responsible Minister is expected to immediately have
her Ministry instruct all Barnevern offices in the country
to change tack before it is too late.
correction may come from outside
assertion and the lack of information about the media image
shown by the municipal lawyer I mentioned above, may serve
as an illustration of the Norwegian child protection system
and the zealous legal system that we have.
We have a system which does not dare to admit that it may
have made terrible errors, in matters of basic human rights
and dignity. That is actually what ECHR Article 8 really is
When even the Minister does not manage to take action
before it is too late, but just concludes that something
may be wrong, there is perhaps only one option left, and
that is that the correction must come from outside.
I assume that if this is the case, what happens might be
somehat more brutal. Only time will tell and the minister
still has a few months to clean house.
limitation of the freedom of expression of the involved
have written about this subject for many years. I have also
been reported to the Bar Association's disciplinary unit
for it. This is the side of Minister Horne which I have
seen, besides the article in Dagbladet.
( More here: "Bufdir til klagesak mot
advokat" (The directorate for child
protection makes complaint against lawyer) )
Furthermore, a year ago I wrote the following:
If someone is to be criticized besides
the psychologist in the current case, it is above all the
Norwegian courts with the Supreme Court in the lead. This
because the threshold for intervention in private homes may
have been set too low in general, and probably all too
often in violation of ECHR Article 8. I have yet to see
someone criticize, with similar campaigns, the Norwegian
courts for this.
– I believe this claim is just as relevant today
– but this is of scant help for those who have already lost
their children. They can, however, expect to be invited by
Horne to seminars, in the election campaign of the Progress
Party which has started.