Norway's child protection services accused of abducting children

Published 17.01.2019 00:45
Updated 17.01.2019 11:07

A controversial practice by Barnevernet, the Norwegian Child Welfare Service, keeps drawing the ire of human rights activists. The agency was accused earlier of forcibly taking away children from their parents under the pretext of mistreatment of children.

Now, a Barnevernet official has been accused of helping the abduction of two Turkish children who were on vacation in Turkey with their foster parents, according to Norwegian media outlets.

The story dates back to 2006 when the children were brought to Turkey, the homeland of their biological parents - a few years after the Barnevernet office in Norway's Stavanger took them from their biological parents. Luckily, the Turkish parents located them there and managed to get a court order restricting them from leaving Turkey.

However, the foster parents managed to flee Turkey and returned to Norway. Gunnar Toresen, head of Barnevernet's Stavanger office, is accused of paying 500,000 Norwegian kroner ($58,483) to a lawyer to help him take the children out of Turkey. It was claimed that the money was used to bribe Turkish officials to secretly take the foster parents and children out of the country.

A news report on Norway's state-run TV NRK earlier this month said the two boys were eventually taken from their foster parents once they returned to Norway and were accommodated with separate foster parents.

In an interview with NRK, they said they were involved in drugs while under the care of their foster parents. Meanwhile, the foster father, who brought children to Turkey, was later convicted of child assault.

Last year, Norway was convicted by European Court of Human Rights for violating human rights of a mother and a daughter who was forcibly taken by Barnevernet in 2011.

The court said the country broke international laws on privacy and family life and ordered the country to pay compensation to the woman.

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