Norway’s child welfare service, otherwise known as 'Barnevernet', has faced intense international criticism for taking children into care without a legally transparent process, and for refusing to cooperate with child protection agencies in other countries.
Citizens of Poland, Russia, Lithuania, India, and Brazil, among other countries, have accused Norway of abusing authority and ruining families.
Now Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare have admitted they can do nothing for Swedish parents whose children are taken from them, as Norway is not an EU member nor have they signed the Haag convention.
”I cannot see that there are any legal convention or regulations to get these children here.The children are in Norway, and the Norwegian regulations apply,” Kajsa Laxhammar, a lawyer at the National Board of Health and Welfare told Sweden's DN newspaper.
Alexandra Hasselström, a Swedish woman, had her three children Sol, Tor and Karl taken into care in Norway in 2011 and has been fighting ever since to have them transferred to Sweden.
She has since moved back to Sweden and started a new family with another husband, but although the Swedish authorities believe she is capable of caring for children Barnevernet continues to refuse to return her children.
In February this year, Czech President Miloš Zeman compared Barnevernet to the Nazi Lebensborn programmes, on the grounds that they refused to return two Czech boys to their mother, or even to allow her to speak Czech to them on her rare visits.
Norwegian lawyer Dag Sverre Aamodt, who has represented parents in about fifty cases against the child welfare services says Barnevernet often does not have legal grounds to take children into care.
”Barnevernet can criticise completely normal things like a mother cuddling her two- year-old in bed on a Saturday morning, and a parent who has a beer on a Sunday afternoon can be criticised for it,” Aamodt told DN. ”Everyone who is in a vulnerable situation are terrified of Barnevernet.”
According to Reuters, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has published guidelines for their citizens on how to avoid unwanted attention from Barnevernet. They advice against quarrelling loudly, and children talking about their parents holding large parties, since this could be interpreted as a bad environment for children.