News » The Council of Europe Asks for Better Protection for Children and their Families

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Council of Europe Asks for Better Protection for Children and their Families

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) reaffirmed on Thursday the 28th of June the right of children to be protected from all types of violence as they adopted a resolution based on a report by ECPM MP and Board Member Valeriu Ghiletchi (Republic of Moldova). At the same time, they underlined the right children have not to be separated from their parents against their will except when it is absolutely necessary and in their best interest. The report has been adopted with an enormous majority of 43 against 2 with 14 abstentions. Several ECPM MPs took the floor to support the report. ECPM congratulates Mr Ghiletchi for this great achievement.

Mr. Valeriu Ghiletchi

Mr Ghiletchi opened his speech in the plenary debate by saying that: “The well-being of children across Council of Europe member States is of particular interest to me as a father, grandfather and politician, and I have been considering one of the most far-reaching interventions that the State can make into family life: the removal of children from their parents and into an out-of-home placement. The report’s findings are important to us all, because the family is the fundamental building block of society, and international law is clear that the State should intervene and separate a family only in the most exceptional circumstances, because an unwarranted intervention can have a devastating impact on family life.”

He added that the case that prompted this report was a decision taken by Barnevernet, the Norwegian child welfare services in 2015. In that year, five children from a Romanian-Norwegian family, including a three-month old baby, were taken into care by Barnevernet, in what were widely seen to be troubling circumstances. Even though the children were returned to their parents, as a result of the adventure of the Bodnariu family, many similar cases were brought to light. Mr Ghiletchi made more discoveries during his fact-finding visit to Norway. He found out that several procedural safeguards that were built into the child welfare system have not been successful in practice. Instead of fostering relationships with children and families to ensure that they are adequately helped, the agency follows a bureaucratic approach that in many cases allows abuses to happen.

Mr. Ronan Mullen

ECPM MP Ronan Mullen (Republic of Ireland) added that even though “this report grew out of certain unfortunate events that happened in Norway, but it is not a report about Norway. No country in the Council of Europe is above providing us with teaching moments and learning moments about how we can improve our defence and vindication of human rights, particularly those of the most vulnerable among us, who of course are the children of our societies…... As has been mentioned, the recent international coverage of the separation of children from their families at the southern border of the United States has led to justified international criticism of policies that break up families for dubious reasons.”