The Nordic Committee for Human Rights

NCHR For the protection of Family Rights in the Nordic countries Secretary General of the Council of Europe Mr Thorbjørn Jagland Avenue de l'Europe F - 67075 Strasbourg Cedex France December 10, 2012

Report: Child Removal Cases in Sweden and the neighbouring Nordic countries

Honourable Mr Secretary General, Honourable Committee of Ministers, We, the undersigned, lawyers, former judges and law professors, professor of psychology and investigating psychologists, medical doctor in Sweden, including the lawyers, members of the Steering Committee of The Nordic Committee for Human Rights - NCHR - For the protection of family rights in the Nordic countries (Nordiska Kommittén för Mänskliga Rättigheter - NKMR - För skydd av familjers rättigheter i de nordiska länderna), are hereby sending this request to the Council of Europe, the Minister Committee and the European Parliament for a thorough investigation of the very prevalent and destructive Child Removal Cases that are being practiced, on a daily basis, in the neighbouring Nordic countries. All of the judges, lawyers and law professors, professor of psychology and investigating psychologists and the medical doctor who endorse this report have worked with and publicly addressed the issue of the child removal cases and the NKMR/NCHR has participated actively in the government's "New plan of action for Human Rights 2006 - 2009", (Ny handlingsplan för de mänskliga rättigheterna 2006 - 2009), which is still in progress. From our professional experiences, it appears that mostly young, sole parent families, economically and educationally weaker families, families with health challenges and immigrant parents are targeted by the social services in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Also parents with religious and philosophical beliefs, which do not seem to be politically accepted, are often deemed as unsuitable parents, which invariably leads the social councils, acting upon the advice of the social workers, to remove the children from their families and place them in foster homes. However, even highly educated parents with high-profile professions have experienced social workers' interference in their private and family lives. Since the beginning of the 1980's, a great number of families have fled from Sweden in order to protect their children from being taken into care and placed in foster homes.1 Many
1 - Jacob Young, Joan Westreich and Donna Foote, A Family's Flight From the Welfare State, Newsweek, 1983,; David Högstedt, Hemskolefamilj flyttar till Åland, (Homeschooling family moves to Åland), rightfully upset critics even refer to these cases as the "child care and abduction industry", because of the large sums of money that are being paid to the foster parents, while others use the term: the "child abuse and family destruction industry", because the children and their parents are invariably traumatised. It should also be noted, that lawyers in Sweden who believe in the rule of law and the supremacy of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and who work conscientiously to protect the rights of their clients, are harassed and persecuted by the staff in the administrative court system. At the outset, we hereby request that we, the undersigned, should be granted a personal meeting with the Council of Europe, so that we can give you a briefing of the situation in Sweden and the Nordic countries. The number of signatories to this application makes it impractical for all of us to meet up at the Council of Europe, therefore we invite the Council of Europe to designate a Committee, for eg the Torture Committee, to meet with us in Gothenburg, Sweden for the purpose of find remedies for the non-existing Child-friendly Justice system in Sweden and the Nordic countries.

Since the beginning of the 20th Century, Sweden and the Nordic countries all have laws which give the social welfare authorities the power to forcibly remove children from the care of their parents - on what appears to be arbitrary grounds - and place them in foster homes, or institutions, among total strangers. From 1920 to the present day, more than 300 000 children in Sweden have been removed from their homes and placed in compulsory foster care. The statistics for Norway, Finland and Denmark are a little lower. In 1957, the young and intrepid journalist, Ms. Lillemor Holmberg, wrote several articles about the Blomqvist family in the municipality of Vetlanda, whose eight (8) children had been removed from their home by the social services and placed in secret foster homes far away from their loved ones, hence Vetlandfallet4, the Vetlanda Case. The title of Lillemor Holmberg's first article that was published in a magazine is "Legaliserade barnarov", (Legalised kidnappings). The following year, 1958, Ms Lillemor Holmberg6 published her article, and the late Professor Halvar Sundberg7 wrote his commentary: "Ett hems undergång i folkhemmet" (The destruction of a home in the welfare state). Both pieces were highly critical of the procedures employed by the state to remove the Blomqvist children from their home and break up their family. Ten years later, in 1967, the publicist, Mr Jan Gillberg, interviewed Ms Holmberg on the topic of the Vetlanda Case. In the interview, "En mor frågar samhället: Var finns mina fem barn? 8" (A mother asks the state: Where are my five children?), Ms Holmberg quoted Ms Ulla Lindström, a government minister, who in a recorded conversation, said: "This is a scum family and they stick together like a clan!" ("den här familjen är ju tattare och håller ihop som en klan!") We have focused here on the Blomqvist Case that took place in 19579 in order to show that the taking of children into public care by the social authorities in Sweden and placing them in foster homes is nothing new, but instead, a long standing practice.

Världen idag, (The World today), February 10, 2012,
2 - 2 § LVU. Vård skall beslutas om det på grund av fysisk eller psykisk misshandel, otillbörligt utnyttjande, brister i omsorgen eller något annat förhållande i hemmet finns en påtaglig risk för att den unges hälsa eller utveckling skadas. Lag (2003:406). (Law with special Provisions on the care of young persons (1990:52)). The strophe "eller något annat förhållande i hemmet" leaves children and their families open to the whims of the social workers.
3 - European Convention, Articles 5 and 8 forbid arbitrariness. Cf: Case of Čonka v. Belgium (Application no. 51564/99), Judgment Strasbourg, 5 February 2002 paras 39; 79; Case of B. v. The United Kingdom Application no. 9840/82 Judgment Strasbourg 8 July 1987, paras 60-65,
4 - Vetlandafallet. En sammanställning av artiklar, (The Vetlanda Case. A collection of articles)
5 - Lillemor Holmberg, Legaliserade barnarov, Perspektiv, Tidskrift för kulturdebatt, häfte 9. 1957. Årg. 8. November 1957,
6 - Lillemor Holmberg, Ett hems undergång i folkhemmet, Särtryck ur Samtid och Framtid nr 4, 1958,


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