The report Social Services in Europe: legislation and practice of the removal of children from their families in Council of Europe member states has been written by Duma member Olga Borzova for the Council of Europe Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.
It is based on a previous motion for resolution: The abuse by social services of member States of the Council of Europe of their authority to remove children from their parents’ custody of October 2012.
It will be debated at the next Plenary Session in Strasbourg in April. Its summary says:
Children have the right
- to be protected from all types of violence, abuse and neglect.
But children also have the right
- not to be separated from their parents against their will, except when the competent authorities determine that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.
In the absence of a child being judged to be at risk or imminent risk of suffering serious harm, in particular physical, sexual or psychological abuse, it is not enough to show that a child could be placed in a more beneficial environment for his upbringing to remove a child from his or her parents and even less to sever family ties completely.
Children’s rights are violated both
- by unwarranted decisions taken in member States to remove them from (or not to return them to) parental care,
- and by unwarranted decisions taken in member States not to remove them from (or to return them too early to) parental care.
Member States should thus put into place laws, regulations and procedures which truly put the best interest of the child first in removal, placement and reunification decisions. The competent Council of Europe body should develop policy guidelines for member States on how to avoid practices deemed abusive in this context, i.e. (except in exceptional circumstances)
- severing family ties completely,
- removing children from parental care at birth,
- basing placement decisions on the effluxion of time,
- and having recourse to adoptions without parental consent.
As John Hemming, the MP who has over 2,000 cases on file of his Justice for Families campaign, says:
Social Services get involved when they shouldn’t and they don’t get involved when they should…
What can we do?
Even though the election may change the MP and thus membership of the Council of Europe, let’s share our grievances with MPs who are Committee members. From the UK:
- Tom Watson Labour MP for West Bromwich East – one of the Magnificent Seven MPs who started the National Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
- Jeffrey Donaldson Democratic Unionist MP for Lagan Valley in Northern Ireland
- David Davies Conservative MP for Monmouth
- Baroness Margaret Eaton – Conservative Member of House of Lords
- Sir Alan Meale Labour MP for Mansfield
- Robert Neill Conservative MP for Bromley & Chislehurst
- John Prescott Labour Member of House of Lords
- David Crausby Labour MP for Bolton North East.
What can we ask for?
- An apology by the UK government for all ‘shameful’ forced adoptions – similar to the Australian Prime Minister
- The return of forcefully adopted children.
- Compensation for children taken at birth.
- The return of children placed in care if they want to.
- More contact with children in care.
- No gagging!
- No forced adoptions!
- No punishment without crime!
- No removal for ‘future risk of emotional abuse’!
- No censored conversations and our native language when we see our children in care!
- Fair trials!
- Open court hearings!
- BBC Inside Out South East reported on Europe looking at Forced Adoptions on 2 February 2015. It refers to the above report!
- Our EU petition to Abolish Adoptions without Parental Consent remains live in the Petitions Committee, especially after we mobilised Bulgaria when the Chair Cecilia Wikstrom MEP announced a conversation with the EU Commission.
Meanwhile, we can feel for these ‘whistleblower kids’ and their family and sign the petition appealing for their return.