Norwegian envoy slams Indian movie grilling Scandinavian nation's child protection system

Norwegian envoy slams Indian movie grilling Scandinavian nation's child protection system

Oslo's envoy in India calls movie inspired by real-life story of couple whose children were taken away by Norwegian authorities 'fiction'

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) – Norwegian ambassador to India has triggered a fresh controversy over his comments on a movie, inviting a sharp focus on the Scandinavian nation's child protection system.

Human rights defenders have urged the Scandinavian nation to fix its own system as Norway faces most of the cases of child abuse at the European Court of Human Rights.

The controversy erupted after Ambassador Hans Jacob Frydenlund's remarks about a movie inspired by the real-life story of an Indian couple whose children were taken away by Norwegian authorities in 2011.

Frydenlund, last week, issued a statement on the film "Mrs. Chatterjee vs Norway" claiming the case being referred to was resolved a decade ago "in cooperation with Indian authorities and with the agreement of all parties involved."

The claim, however, was rejected by Indian and Norwegian rights activists, accusing the diplomat of "misinforming" the world.

"The film does not claim to be an authentic and accurate representation or depiction of the events, nor the opinion of the makers of the film or persons associated with the film on such event," the diplomat had said.

He dubbed the film as a "work of fiction, even though it is based on an actual case.”

Suranya Aiyar, a lawyer and a mother from India, and Marius Reikeras, a human rights counsel and a father from Norway, in a joint statement on Tuesday, accused the Norwegian diplomat of "refusing to face the realities about Norway's internationally notorious child protection system."

Aiyar represented the case of Sagarika Chakraborty, on whose real-life story the movie is based.

The Norwegian Child Welfare Services (Barnevernet) has been criticized by rights groups over its 2015 controversial decision, particularly against migrant families.

Since 2015, Barnevernet is accused of mostly taking away children from their families by citing "abuse," and has been criticized inside and outside of the country.

On Sept. 10, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Norway violated the right to respect for private and family life that is protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

- 'Misinformation'

"In fact, the movie is much more important than people can imagine, as it gives hope and comfort to thousands of people in Norway suffering from brutal injustice," the statement said.

The most important legacy of the movie, it maintained, would be to "correct prejudices."

Rejecting the Norwegian envoy's claim regarding the settlement of the much-publicized case, Aiyar and Reikeras said the diplomat's statement "clearly misinforms and shows a lack of knowledge."

"The ambassador's knowledge about this topic is obviously close to zero," the joint statement said, adding: "The truth is that Norway is going through its worst human rights crisis in modern times."

"Norway is a world champion in criticizing other countries for violating human rights while trying to sweep their own violations under the rug," the human rights activists said.

Accusing Oslo of having a record-high number of serious convictions in child welfare cases in the ECHR since September 2018 – 15 so far –, the statement said: "Norway has shown no will to clear up its internal human rights problems, which has led thousands of people to live in unnecessary fear."

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