PRESS RELEASE – 26.12.2015
Recent international press articles, those covering the Marius & Ruth Bodnariu case in Norway, contain certain misinterpreted and inaccurately documented information and events. This press release rectifies these misstatements and can be used as an informational starting point for future articles and broadcasts.
- Purpose of the protests in Romania, Europe, and USA.
1. Protest against the abuses perpetrated by the Barnevernet
Marius & Ruth Bodnariu (“Parents”), together with their Romanian-Norwegian children (“Children”), have lived in Norway for the past 10 years. Their Children (Eliana 9, Naomi 7, Matthew 5, John 2, and Ezekiel 4 months) are also Romanian citizens. Marius has a Master’s degree in Computer Systems Engineering & Applied Informatics from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest and works in the Redal, Naustdal Hall as the IT lead responsible for the entire village School District; a school district covering 10 communities and 50 schools. Ruth is a Registered Nurse working in the Pediatric Ward of the Norde Central Hospital.
On Monday, November 16, 2015, Norwegian child protection services (“Barnevernet”) confiscated the 4 oldest Bodnariu children (and baby Ezekiel the following day) and immediately placed them in 3 separate foster homes, without any prior investigations or psychosocial and emotion assessments of the Children. The process of confiscating the Bodnariu children started when the Vevring School Principal (“Principal”), the middle school attended by Eliana and Naomi, called the Barnevernet and expressed her concerns regarding the girls’ religious upbringing, her understanding that the girls are being disciplined at home, and that she considers the parents and grandmother to be radical Christians; an overriding concern that the principal’s perception of the Parents’ and grandmother’s religious beliefs inhibit and handicap the girls’ development. In the same call to the Barnevernet, the Principal stressed that she was only requesting the Barnevernet’s counseling services, as the girls are intelligent and creative, and that she, the Principal, doesn’t believe that the girls are being physically abused at home. This same Principal had previously scolded and categorically forbid one of the Bodnariu girls from singing as a result of the girl singing a Christian song to her schoolmates.
Upon receiving this aforementioned call from the Principal, the Barnevernet filed a claim, alleging family violence, against the Parents without ever informing Marius & Ruth. On November 16, the Naustdal Barnevernet (the local district of the Barnevernet) initiated the confiscation of the Bodnariu Children and the arrest and interrogation of the Parents. The Barnevernet confiscated the girls from school and together, with local police, confiscated the two older boys from the family home. Ruth was arrested at the family home, Marius was arrested while at work, and both were separately escorted to the local police station for interrogation. The Parents were interrogated separately and Marius, not a Norwegian citizen, was not provided a lawyer or a translator throughout the entire duration of his interrogation. After a few hours of interrogation, the police discharged the Parents, along with baby Ezekiel, as the Police did not consider the Parents to be dangerous. In the discharge process, the police clarified that the Parents will be receiving follow-up communication that will explain what is taking place.
Authorities illegally arrested the Parents without informing the Parents of the allegations or evidence warranting such extreme aggressions. Furthermore, the Parents were coerced into complying without legal counsel with the assurance that their cooperation in this manner would result in a positive outcome for their family and them.
On November 17, contrary to the optimistic assurances provided in the Parents’ interrogation, the Barnevernet, together with local police, also confiscated baby Ezekiel from the family home.
The Barnevernet, a non-tribunal government organization, held a hearing at its local office and ruled against the Parents while accusing them of physically abusing their children. The Barnevernet ordered extensive medical examination of the children, as there was no evidence to support the allegations of physical abuse, but the medical reports emphasized that there was no sign of physical or mental abuse. The Barnevernet upholds its decision solely on what it claims is the testimony of the Children, testimony that remains unproven and contradicts itself, and on this foundation has ruled that (1) the Parents can only see baby Ezekiel 2 times per week for 2 hours at a time, (2) only Ruth is allowed to see the boys, Matthew and John, once a week, and that (3) neither Parent is allowed to see the girls; the Parents have not seen the girls since November 16.
It is unclear how the children were interrogated, whether a psychologist was present and how the Children’s’ testimony was obtained, as the Children’s interrogation took place without the participation of a lawyer, representing the Parents, to ensure that rules and regulations governing interrogations of a minor were honored; interrogation to be effectuated without the risk of inflicting psycho-emotional trauma on the minors.
Marius & Ruth have not received any alert or warning from the authorities in which they, as parents, were made aware of any deficiencies in the raising and/or educating of their children until they were interrogated, after their arrest, by the police on November 16.
The Barnevernet has itself violated the principle of the “best interest of the child” by not investigating and evaluating the impact of the forced separation, from their Parents and siblings, on the Children.
Currently, the Children are unjustly dispersed and held in three separate foster care homes; foster care homes in 2 different cities, each at least 3.5 hours away from the family home. It has been documented that the Children insist they miss their Parents and want to return home but the Barnevernet continues to deny these recorded pleas. Paradoxically, in their meeting with the Parents on December 15, the Barnevernet told the Parents that it wants to get to know them better and to evaluate them in February 2016 but that it, the Barnevernet, would nonetheless continue adoption proceedings for all 5 of the Bodnariu children.
We would like to bring to your attention that there are still a number of unclear, unexplainable, and unaddressed points relating to the way in which the 5 Bodnariu children were confiscated:
– violation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1980; specifically referring to articles 5, 8, 9, 14, 18, 20 (line 3), and 30
– extreme and abusive force by the Barnevernet
– lack of any previous social investigation
– lack of any investigation evaluating the impact, of the forced separation from their parents and siblings and placement into 3 different foster care homes, on the Children
– Barnevernet’s lack of transparency
– interrogation without a lawyer and translator; thereby undermining the right to a defense
– coercion into not contacting the Romanian embassy
– no evidence of physical or mental abuse
– delaying the translation of all documents in Romanian; a translation mandated by law
– mother is not allowed to nurse her 3-month old child except 2 times per week
– Barnevernet coerced the mother (Ruth) to lie and declare that the father (Marius) is abusive by promising to return the children to her (Ruth)
– Barnevernet threatening Marius that he will never see his Children again if he goes public with this case; a threat from Barnevernet representatives clearly representing blackmail
– forced separation of the Children into foster care homes in different cities at least 3.5 hours away from home, including the yet nursing 3-month old baby despite the fact that the Parents’ lawyer identified a more appropriate foster care home for the baby closer to the family home
– manipulating the Children with leading questions designed to inculpate the parents
Such methods and posturing remind us Romanians of the tactics employed by the former governing totalitarian communist regime in Romania. It is this recognition that sustains us in our accusing the Barnevernet, and implicitly the Kingdom of Norway in its complicity, of flagrant violation of family and human rights, of threats and intimidation against the Bodnariu family and their lawyers (some of which remain without license to practice), and of attempts to silence and restrict freedom of religious expression.
2. Display of solidarity of support for, and alongside of, Marius & Ruth Bodnariu
We denounce the irrational and abusive actions against a normal and responsible family that has provided for a propitious environment in which to raise its 5 children. Marius & Ruth are integrated in society, and adding value to their community by the nature of their profession, without ever having initiated, or carried out, immoral or illegal acts.
3. Display of solidarity with other families of similar experiences
Families from Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Turkey, Brazil, India, Russia, and the Czech Republic.
- Documentation release
Due to the conditions of confidentiality established by the Norwegian legislature, the family of Marius & Ruth Bodnariu is not permitted to make public any official documents or transcripts.