Norway social workers lied in court to keep child

Norway's controversial Child Welfare Service submitted false evidence in order to keep a child in foster care against the wishes of the mother, a court in Norway has ruled.

Norway social workers lied in court to keep child
Arne Seland, the defence lawyer who won the woman back custody over her son. Photo:
The young mother, whose two children were taken into care in 2012, was the following year denied the right to receive them back, despite a court resolution that the Child Welfare Service had wrongly taken them into care, because the agency claimed that the elder of the two children had said that he did not want to live with her. 
The Nord-Troms district court ruled as a result that it was in the best interests of the two children that they remain with their foster parents, even though it harshly criticised the agency's handling of the case. 
However, in a follow-up case this week, the court heard that the boy had kept a strong bond with his mother, despite three years of separation and had pushed continuously to be returned to her. 
“They should not have been taken into care, and the Child Welfare Service falsified their reports when they claimed that the boy did not want to live with his mother,” the mother’s attorney Arne Seland told Dagbladet newspaper.  “In reality, the boy has said he wanted to be returned to her all along.” 
The court has now ruled that the boy should be returned to his mother.  Her younger child will however remain in the custody of the state, as the child was only a few months old when the Child Welfare Service stepped in and has not yet developed a strong bond.     
The mother, who has not been named, told Dagbladet that she hoped her case would encourage others to change the agency's judgements. 
“I feel that I have my life back. It feels like a miracle every time I look at him. I hope this will inspire others in similar situations not to give up,” she said. 
Guro Sønderland, the psychologist called in to review the case told the court that the boy did suffer  emotional difficulties,  but that these were the result of his traumatic removal from his mother rather than from mistreatment under her care. 

“I think that the child’s negative reactions are due to a traumatic break in his relationship with his mother and that he is in grief,” she told the newspaper. 
Norway's Child Welfare Service has faced a barrage of international criticism, with demonstrations planned this weekend in Norway, Czech Republic, Lithuania, UK, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia and Turkey against what protesters claim is its heavy-handed arbitrary approach in taking Norwegian and foreign children into care.


Why Norway is at both the top and bottom of Unicef ranking

Although Norway tops a new Unicef list of children's chances of good health, the country fares far worse when it comes to protecting children's rights to a good climate in the future.

Why Norway is at both the top and bottom of Unicef ranking
Norwegian children meeting Crown Princess Mette-Marit. File photo: AFP

A commission appointed by Unicef and the WHO has produced the report A future for the world’s children?, published by medical journal The Lancet.

40 experts were appointed by the commission to review worldwide health prospects for children and young people.

In the report, 180 countries are ranked by the opportunities with which they provide children for their futures. This includes basic survival, health, education, nutrition, sustainability, justice and inequality.

“It’s time for a new approach to the health of children, a new era in which all governments ensure that the wellbeing of children comes before anything else,” Unicef Norway general secretary Camilla Viken told news bureau NTB.

With regard to the global health of children, Viken noted that, despite huge improvements in general over the last 20 years, development has stagnated and is at risk of being reversed in the worst cases.

“Climate change, dangerous marketing and obesity are some of the newer and greatest threats against our children, threats which were unthinkable a few generations ago,” she said.

No country is free of flaws in all sections of the report, which focuses on how well countries are ensuring health, environment and a secure future for children.

Norway is, though, top of the list for giving children the best possible chance of good health, just ahead of South Korea and the Netherlands. Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Sweden and 6th and 13th respectively.

But on the question of protecting the climate for future generations, Norway is to be found on the lower reaches of the ranking, in 156th place. Interestingly South Korea and the Netherlands also perform poorly in this category, at 166th and 160th respectively.

READ ALSO: Norway's Equinor sets green goals but activists unimpressed

Norway emits 212 percent more CO2 per person of the 2030 climate target, a key reason for its low ranking. Denmark emits 122 percent of the target, putting it 135th, and Sweden is 55 percent over, corresponding to 116th place.

Another key element of the report is the potential impact of poor diets on the health of children. Heavy marketing of unhealthy products, targeted at children, is linked by the commission to increasing levels of obesity in children globally.

In 2016, 124 million children worldwide were obese, compared to 11 million in 1975, according to the report – an eleven-fold increase.

A Unicef report from last year placed Norway amongst countries with increasing incidence of obesity in children, NTB writes.

READ ALSO: Norwegian kids are fourth fittest in the world in 2016