16 July 2018

Separating children from their parents – is Norway better than the USA?

By Marianne Haslev Skånland
professor emeritus, Oslo

   A Norwegian version of this article was published
in the newspaper Haugesunds Avis and on Kristen Koalisjon Norge on 14 July 2018.
   This English version has been published on
Christian Coalition World on 15 July 2018.

Norway's Minister for Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide visited the United States recently.

On the news back here in Norway, she made a special point of having criticised the USA for their recent practice of separating migrant children from their parents while the family's application for entry/asylum is being processed.
According to the newspaper VG, the Minister writes, in an email sent via her communications advisor (translation mine, MHS):
" – Of course the recent pictures from the USA provoke strong emotions. Children have a legitimate claim to have their rights taken care of and it takes a lot to separate children from their parents. – It is up to each country to decide their migration policy. But this is something we would not have done in Norway".
, 19 June 2018


The media in both countries have been active presenting the strong protests in the USA against this type of action. Citizens are upset about the impropriety of it. On social media and in some comments to newspaper articles on the web, we find voices expressing a content which is not mentioned by mainstream articles. They come from far-seeing people who perceive
connections between phenomena: This is not just about migrant children in the USA. Those who implement these separations in the USA are the child protection agencies (the CPS) of the USA, they carry it out apparently without reservation and in a way which is usual in CPS actions practiced towards the country's own citizens every day. It is a practice which is indistinguishable from that of Norway.

Suranya Aiyar:
It's not just migrant children – how child removals in the US system go wrong
SaveYourChildren.in, 20 June 2018

The only difference is actually in favour of these migrant children: The United States has, at least in principle, said that the migrant children are to be reunited with their parents when the applications have been processed. Such principles are found in legislation and guidelines in Norway too, but our CPS, Barnevernet, and unquestioning courts of law prevent it in practice in most cases.


I will avoid giving descriptions of any the numerous cases in which Norwegian CPS separates Norwegian children from their parents by force, or of the parallel cases in the USA. Let me instead describe one case in which a small family has "crossed the border" into Norway:

It concerns a Nigerian mother and her child. In cases where Norway has confiscated children of Nigerian mothers/parents, Nigeria has said yes to receiving the family back if their application for asylum is turned down and they are to be deported from Norway. But Nigeria, which has seen something of the way protection of children is practiced by official Norway, has very alertly made a condition for issuing them with travel documents so that they can go back: Nigeria will only do so if Norway lets the children go with the parents. However, this Norway refuses to do if the CPS claims the child. Parents are to be expelled, children to be confiscated for good by Norway, to be given to foster parents or adoptive parents or to institutional life.

In one such case the mother was at first subjected to great strain which almost broke her in her meetings with the immigration authorities. This led to a CPS case and the CPS taking the child. Then the mother's application for asylum was turned down and she is to be deported. The CPS has worked to make her separation from her daughter permanent, and the authorities are at present in the process of adopting away the daughter forcibly to a homosexual pair of foster fathers. No account is taken of the fact that for the mother, and her relatives back in Nigeria to whom she has a good relationship, this adds even further to their experience of monstrous treatment, since homosexuality in Nigeria is punishable with several years of imprisonment. In Norway's eagerness not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, our authorities have no human rights or humanity to spare for the biological family.

Bjorn Bjoro:
A system that wears people down
MHS's home page, 27 September 2015

Norway has many similar cases, both new and old, concerning immigrants to Norway from many different countries. It is impossible to mention them all. From recent years there are, for instance, good descriptions of the case of Czech mother Eva Michaláková and her two sons. With the assistance of Czech politicians and lawyers, she is now trying to get help from the European Court of Human Rights to pass judgment about the adoption away by force of the children to the two sets of foster parents. Cf partial overviews with links to numerous articles:

The child protection case in Norway about the Czech children of Eva Michaláková – Some aspects
MHS's home page, 19 October 2015

Czech family seriously damaged by Norwegian child protection service (CPS)
Forum Redd Våre Barn (Rescue Our Children), 1 January 2015 – 10 December 2017

Very recently a Polish family has been prevented, by Norwegian police and CPS, from obtaining assistance from a Polish consul:

Polska ambasador domaga się wyjaśnień (The Polish ambassador asks for an explanation)
(Google Translate seems to give an adequate translation.)
NPortal.no, 8 July 2018

European consul abused by Norwegian police in Barnevernet case
Christian Coalition World, 28 June 2018

Norwegian authorities ignore case about Poland's consul, Slawomir Kowalski – "Disagreement about embassy's behavior"
Christian Coalition World, 10 July 2018


On its web page our Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a section
"Children's rights" under "Human rights".

Among the rights of children, there is no mention of a child's right to be with its parents. The word "parent" is in fact not found at all in the text.

This was actually to be expected since our authorities base their policies on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, whose reasoning in large measure has it that children obtain rights by being liberated so that their bonds to their parents are trivialised. (It is useful to look into which circles in the UN system were active in developing this convention in the form it has.) There is no emphasis on that which is central in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR): that the right to "family life" is
a mutual and joint right for the children and their parents.

Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life
  1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
  2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

How Norwegian experts came to reject biological kinship as relevant in child welfare policy