The Romanian Government had a first reaction on Tuesday in the case concerning the five children that Norwegian child protection services took away from their family and placed into temporary foster families. Their parents are suspected of ill treatment.
PM Ciolos, special interest in what concerns the evolution and clarification of the Bodnariu case
The Government’s reaction came after hundreds of persons took to the streets in several cities to express their support for this family and to ask for the intervention of Romanian authorities.
Government Spokesperson Dan Suciu pointed out that the Bodnariu family’s court appeal, whose goal is to place the children back into their parents’ custody, is yet to be scheduled.
“The Premier has expressed his special interest in what concerns the evolution and clarification of the Bodnariu case against the backdrop of the excellent relations that Romania has with Norway at all levels at this moment,” Dan Suciu emphasized.
“The Premier’s and Government’s interest is justified by the fact that we are talking about Romanian citizens, family members, that are now turning in ever growing numbers toward the Romanian embassy and are asking ever more for the Romanian authorities’ involvement,” the Government Spokesperson stated. He pointed out that a meeting between the Romanian ambassador, the Bodnariu family and the new court-appointed lawyer will take place today at the Romanian embassy in Oslo.
“The Romanian side understands that there are ongoing investigations that the Norwegian side is carrying out in line with Norwegian legislation. We fully respect this, and the Romanian side hopes it will be kept abreast of the latest developments in these investigations as quickly as possible. The Premier will personally monitor developments in this case,” he added.
“The Romanian side is making all demarches that fall within the prerogatives of our authorities. Later tomorrow, the Romanian ambassador in Oslo will meet the representative of the Norwegian Children’s, Equality and Inclusion Ministry. This meeting was requested in November and we salute the fact that the Norwegian side has finally accepted this demarche,” Dan Suciu pointed out.
He added that Foreign Affairs Minister Lazar Comanescu talked yesterday with Daniel Bodnariu, the five children’s uncle.
Dan Suciu also pointed out that these meetings will have “a regular character” until the situation is resolved.
“The Romanian side sees fit to fully respect the family’s privacy concerns, repeatedly expressed, in what concerns the media coverage of this case. Likewise, we also understand the spirit of Norwegian legislation and the independent functioning of the Norwegian institutions involved in this case. However, the whole case will be monitored with the greatest attention,” Dan Suciu said.
“The Romanian side will play an active role in line with the family’s requests, requests made as Romanian citizens. The Prime Minister is calling on the Norwegian authorities to perceive the sensitive side that the story has at the level of Romanian and international public opinion,” Dan Suciu stated. He added that the Government hopes the situation would be clarified rapidly in a way “that would take into account the children’s interest, as Romanian and Norwegian citizens, without the need for other demarches and without further inflaming the situation based on excellent relations.”
Senate Speaker: “We believe that the measures taken by Norwegian authorities are excessive and over the top”
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu stated on Tuesday that the measures taken by Norwegian authorities in the Bodnariu case are “excessive and over the top,” and deemed that the Romanian state should act “more vigorously” in order to help them get their children back.
“We believe that the measures taken by Norwegian authorities are excessive and over the top, bearing in mind that they should first of all respect the right to religious freedom; I would like to see more vigorous action on the part of Romanian authorities, in order to help the Bodnariu family get the children back into their custody. The fact that we are seeing these measures being applied also for four-month-old babies is incomprehensible to us,” Tariceanu stated for evz.ro.
He added that he found out that the Bodnariu family has made overtures to obtain Romanian citizenship for their children, pointing out that the Romanian state has the obligation to offer an alternative solution in the face of the “Norwegian authorities’ abuses.”
“For me this action taken by the Norwegian state is an unpleasant surprise. I would have thought there is more freedom and more tolerance, including in what concerns the citizens exercising their religious choices,” Tariceanu added.
President Iohannis following with great concern developments in Bodnariu case, backing Gov’t efforts
President Klaus Iohannis said that he is following with great attention the case of the Bodnariu family and underscored that he also backs the Government’s efforts to make sure human rights are being observed for Romanian citizens.
“I follow with great attention and concern what happens to the Bodnariu family in Norway. I back the efforts of the Romanian authorities and of the Romanian Government to make sure human rights are observed in the case of Romanian citizens, wherever they would be,” the head of the state wrote on Tuesday on Facebook.
Meanwhile, the Bodnariu family’s drama has left deep marks.
“If we take into account the lawyer’s explanation alone, there is no possibility… very low chances in court. I know cases in which the family won at the ECHR and still didn’t get the children back. We know a family that won the case at the Supreme Court and got back only two of the three children, 6 months after the lawsuit, they are fighting for the third. We cannot give an answer to the question as to what the Romanian state could do for us, how the Romanian authorities could get involved,” Marius Bodnariu, the children’s father, stated for Realitatea TV. The children’s teachers accused the Romanian and his wife of child abuse.
Several hundred protesters gathered on Saturday in several cities to protest the Norwegian child welfare authorities’ decision to take into custody the five children of the Bodnariu family.
In Bucharest, people gathered in Victorei Square with signs written in Romanian and Norwegian reading: “Norway don’t separate the Bodnariu family,” “Rather a poor mom in Romania than have your children stolen in Norway,” “Romanians worldwide unite. Your children are being kidnapped,” “Stop Barnevernet,” “Norway, stop child kidnapping,” or “Reunite the Bodnariu family.”
In Cluj too, over five hundred protesters gathered in the city centre to express support for the family, carrying photos of the Bodnariu spouses Marius and Ruth, together with their five children, and signs calling for the family’s reuniting. “Norway return children to Bodnariu family” or “Norway don’t separate the Bodnarius” read the signs in their hands.
High officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Friday discussed the matter again with Norway’s Ambassador in Bucharest Tove Bruvik Westberg; the sides agreed on the importance of sustained cooperation in the Bodnariu case, the Foreign Ministry said in a release.
“Both the Bodnariu family and their lawyer on one side and the Norwegian Embassy in Bucharest on the other side have insisted on the observation of the principle of confidentiality, as a basic principle for proceedings in such cases,” the Foreign Ministry also said.
Upon the Foreign Ministry’s request, the Romanian National Authority for the Protection of Children’s Rights and Adoption (ANDPCA) ordered a social inquiry, at the end of which it decided to propose to the Norwegian side the solution of handing the children over into the custody of the father’s extended family in Romania.
The entire documentation provided by ANPDCA was sent, through a fast-track procedure carried out through the Romanian Embassy in Oslo, to all relevant Norwegian authorities, as well as to the family’s lawyer, to be used in the ongoing legal procedure in local courts.
Barnevernet, Norway’s child services agency, took the three sons and two daughters of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu into custody on November 16 and 17, 2015, over concerns of religious indoctrination and physical abuse, and initiated adoption procedures for the children.
A similar case
B1TV has presented a case similar to that of the Bodnariu family. Dumitru Nan and his wife, both Romanian citizens, went through harrowing moments when Barnevernet representatives informed them that they will lose custody of their children because of ill treatments. In their video call, the two explained how it all started and how Norway’s Barnevernet allegedly did not give them any details on the accusations brought against them.
“We were accused of hitting our children with the belt, of hitting the girl in Romania, that everybody hit them. The girl stated that for the first time on October 5 and she was taken away on October 27. (…) At our request, the Romanian embassy and authorities did not help us. And that is because repatriating the children would have been the only thing they could have helped us with,” the Romanian stated.
He added that he has now replaced his lawyer for the third time since the previous lawyers were not interested in the case. The lawsuit will start in a few days’ time.