10 May 2016

Arne Seland:

A recipe for disaster

Speech at the demonstration outside the Norwegian parliament on 16 April 2016.

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 don't care.

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 human rights.


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 Barnevernet.

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 children.

Thank you! And all the best to everybody!