Sweden is facing a backlash for its forceful separation of children from their parents. Now, this issue has taken a religious angle with allegations of Swedish Social Services kidnaping Muslim children from their parents. Parents are protesting against this trend and even the Nordic Committee for Human Rights criticise it.
“They are kidnapping Muslim children, that’s what I mean”.– Siv Westerberg, an internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer who won eight cases at the European Court of Human Rights against Swedish Social Services.
What is LVU of Sweden and How Does it Work?
The Swedish Care of Young Persons (Special Provisions) Act, known as LVU in Sweden, regulates the conditions when social service systems in Sweden can take charge of a child from the family based on significant risk to the health and development of the child. It ensures that the interest of children and parents are not in agreement.
But LVU emphasises that it has always been considered that children are always attached to their roots, language and culture. Further social services assume responsibility to take care of the child in a way that promotes their connection with their families and other people who are important to them and have connections with their home environment.
Even in urgent cases, Swedish Social Services agencies have the right to send their staff along with police to take children from their families or from the school without the knowledge of the parents or prior permission from the court.
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Swedish Social Services have so much power that even if a court in some cases ruled against them, they can deny the ruling and refuse to give the child back to the parents.
In 2020, 3,486 children were taken away by the social service system in Sweden and put into compulsory care.
Author Erik Philipson, who chairs the group Barnets Basta (In the Child’s Best Interest), highlighted the root cause of such conflict that workers in Swedish Social Services are not educated enough to carry out scientific research methods to conduct an objective, and impartial investigation but have heightened authority on child matters and they can decide what is best for children’s interest without expertise.
Nyans is a minority-rights party whose leader Mikail Yüksel also demonstrate against the LVU and social services in Malmö
Image Source: Johan Nilsson/TT
Why do Immigrant Families in Sweden Distrust Their Social System?
Major advocacy is currently underway claiming that Sweden’s Social Care system is kidnapping the Muslim children away from their parents forcibly in a way to threaten them.
Conspiracy theories are also going on about the systematic assimilation of Muslims in Sweden.
But Ms Ltaif said in an interview with local newspaper Dagens Nyheter that “We’re fighting to put a stop to the spread of this disinformation. It’s important to point out that this isn’t just about Muslim children. There are Swedish children, Christian children and non-religious children. We don’t want to Islamise the issue, this is about all children. There are lots of people trying to exploit this issue to their advantage. It’s disappointing.”
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Ms. Ltaif is not an isolated case. Diab Talal is another Syrian refugee who even asked for help from the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after his five children had been taken away by the Swedish Care Authority over the allegations of abuse by a neighbour.
Diab Talal and his family were allocated to live in Sweden in 2017 by the United Nations’ refugee resettlement program, but Swedish Social Services took their five children away. They took the new born baby away from the mother just five minutes after the birth.
While on the other hand, Swedish authorities refuted these allegations. Swedish Consulate General in Istanbul reports that the claims against Sweden Social Services are wrong and “that Swedish social services kidnap, imprison and sexually exploit Muslim children … [are] seriously misleading and the sole aim is to create tensions and spread mistrust”.
According to the Sweden Administrative Court (förvaltningsrätten), “despite receiving support for a long time, they (Diab Talal and wife) did not show a significant improvement in their ability to parent” and show “any deeper insight into children’s need for safety and emotionally available parents.” So there are two-way allegations.
Now the core question is if it is appropriate to separate the children from their parents without an elaborate system of inquiry and involvement of parents.
What makes this issue real thorny is the assimilation of all families from different backgrounds who are against this system of social care taking away children from them.
Many lawyers are considering the modern authority that is Sweden Social Services and its law have non-objective and non-partial investigations creating awful distress for the children and their families.
Lena Hellblom Sjogren, a well-known Swedish forensic psychologist who investigates child sexual abuse and suffering cases also said that Swedish Social Services workers lack reliable tools to conduct an investigation as per the Swedish fundamental law of being impartial and fact-oriented and breaking the law in every case.
Protesters in Gothenburg protest with slogans ‘Stop kidnapping our children!’. Photo Adam Ihse/TT
The Swedish system of child care needs to take care of Child Rights first including Human Rights, Legal Rights and the need for children to be protected against biased, illogical and unscientific children investigation. The Gross step of snatching away the child from their parents can only be the last resort available for their health, safety and development. It is very important to conduct a thorough investigation for any complaints of abuse or mistreatment of children by the parents. The Swedish Care System needs to understand the cultural differences among the refugees of different nations for raising their children. Children’s best care rest with the parents and taking away children from their parents should be the last resort with the best interest of the children first.