Erik Strand, January 16 2015
In an article in the local newspaper Lofotposten on December 30th 2014, on could read that Flakstad municipality (Nordland county) is being sued in a tort case. The background is that a parent couple of foreign origin lost the care for their children to the Child Protection Services (CPS). According to the parents, they have been refused to speak their maternal lanuage with their children during contact meetings.
To the newspaper, the parents’ lawyer, Fritjof Piene Gundersen, states that the children are losing their maternal language and by that an important part of their identity and culture.
– Refusing the family to speak their maternal lanuage is a violotion of diskrimineringsloven (anti discriminatory law) and contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN’s Universal Convention on Human Rights, the lawyer says.
The lawyer also mentions the handling of the care takeover case in Fylkesnemnda (entity in charge of deciding care takeover cases). Fylkesnemnda used a interpreter from a country bordering the parents’ home country. The fathers mastered enough Norwegian that he was able to detect a wrongful translation of his wife’s explanation into Norwegian. The lawyer says that the use of an unqualified interpretor constitutes a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. The three children have not spoken the parents’ maternal language since they were moved to a foster home.
One thing that one can note about the family’s lawyer, is that he is involved in an organisation called Barnas Rettighter (Children’s Rights). On their website (January 2015), under the headline “menneskene” (“the humans”, i.e. the people involved in the organisation), four board members are named: Thea W. Totland, Fritjof Piene Gundersen, Inga Marte Torkildsen and Stig A. Aune. Inga Marte Torkildsen is a former Minister for Children, Family, Equality and Inclusion (2012-2013) and an avid supporter of CPS involvement. Thea W. Totland has worked as a juridical advisor for the CPS,