Bodnariu family might get back its children after Romanian Parliament delegation visit to Norway

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Romanian Marius Bodnariu and his Norwegian wife Ruth might get back their five children taken away by Norway's Child Protection Services (Barnevernet) last November, Deputy Mircea Dolha asserts.

Senator Marian Vasiliev, Deputy Mircea Dolha, Senator Ben Oni Ardelean, Deputy Ovidiu Iane and Senator Titus Corlatean in a press conference on January 22, 2016, after their visit to Norway

Dolha, the vice president of the Chamber of Deputies Committee for Romanians Abroad, led his colleagues Mircea Lubanovici, Maria Grecea and Ovidiu Iane to a visit to Norway this week, alongside Senators Titus Corlatean, Ben-Oni Ardelean and Marian Vasiliev, to discuss the Bodnarius' and other child protection cases with the families and local officials.

"The situation in Norway is worrisome in Norway not just for Romanian families, but also to other families who take their underage children and flee the country. We're interested in Romanian families. From the talks we had with several authorities (...) we have clear signals — we don't want to exaggerate anything, sell illusions — promises that they will issue an internal order to all local authorities to be very careful, because Romanians were not the only to send signals. The Romanian delegation was the one who impressed these authorities, because so far no country has sent members of their Parliaments in great numbers to inquire, to actually know the [Norwegian] legislation. I think the Bodnarius will recover their children and that justice will be on their side," Dolha said in a press conference on Saturday.

"We went to the Bodnarius. We contacted their neighbours. We visited the house, the children's rooms, the way their were brought up. We talked with representatives of the local community who know them well. My personal conclusion is that (...) the Bodnariu family couldn't harm a fly, let alone their own children, whom they love very much," he detailed.

He insisted that the MPs' intention was not to interfere with the child protection investigation of Norwegian authorities; children's interest was the priority.

Senator Vasiliev has lived for three years in Norway, and stressed that the bilateral relations with Romania have not been harmed in any way by the parliamentary visit.

Senator Ardelean answered, "Definitely, yes" to a question on whether there was an abuse in Bodnarius' case. Vasiliev amended: "Not an abuse of the Norwegian state (...) we're talking about few public officers of a small town, where the Bodnarius live."

Senator Corlatean, a former minister of foreign affairs, who headed the Senators' group, summed up: "I think the perception of Norwegian authorities after this visit, after the content of our talks, things will be seen and understood differently. (...) We had the confirmation of a reform process being started in this institution [the Barnevernet] which until a couple of days ago was depicted as impeccable. A reform in both legislative and institutional terms. (...) In the matter of human rights, a fundamental thing happened in the past 20 years. No state is fully sovereign anymore to do what it wants internally in human rights matters."

Besides the Bodnarius, the Romanian MPs had meetings with Anne Karin Hamre, governor of Sogn og Fjordane County, where the Bodnarius reside; with
some Norwegian Parliament committees' members; with representatives of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion; and with members of the local Romanian community.

"I'm in this job for about 22 years. It was one of the toughest, most complicated foreign policy actions I carried out," Corlateanu concluded, while appreciating the unexpected opening of the Norwegian authorities. AGERPRES/(RO — authors: Livia Popescu, Catalina Barbu, editors: Mihai Simionescu, Claudia Stanescu EN — editors: Marius Hosu, Maria Voican)

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