Sunday 06 April 2014
Social workers who take away children is one of the most disturbing human rights scandals of our time
Last June, under the heading “Dutch social workers catch the English disease”, I reported the extraordinary case of the 11-year-old Antonovs twins: a Russian-Latvian brother and sister forcibly snatched by Dutch social workers from their mother and older brother Ilja, primarily on the grounds that at home they spoke Russian, not Dutch. A chilling video of the twins being carried kicking and screaming to a police van is on YouTube (“Kidnap of children from their mother by Dutch social services”), recording a scene not dissimilar to ones that unfold here in Britain, many times every week.
Last Wednesday in Brussels, this video, shown to a roomful of visibly shocked MEPs and officials, was the highlight of a day-long hearing by the European Parliament’s committee of petitions into the way thousands of children in EU countries are each year being removed from their families for absurd reasons. Ilja Antonovs told the story of how his brother and sister are being kept miserably in a “living facility” run by a private company, Jeugdzorg, at a cost to Dutch taxpayers of £65,000 a year for each child. Twice the Dutch appeal court has ordered the return of the twins to their family, but each time this has been overruled by a lower “children’s court”.
Among the witnesses in Brussels, for 23 petitioners from eight countries, was the Association of McKenzie Friends, led by Sabine McNeill, congratulated by the committee for her “flawless” presentation. The committee has already been angered by the European Commission’s refusal to investigate such abuses: EC officials repeated on Wednesday that upholding human rights is solely a matter for national authorities.
The committee resolved that its members will carry out further inquiries in Britain and Holland, two countries where such abuses are most evident. It will then press for a full European Parliament debate on one of the most disturbing human rights scandals of our time.