A video that seems to show Swedish authorities removing children from a Syrian woman has caused a furore online. What are the conditions for German authorities to withdraw custody of children? Is the phenomenon limited to refugees, and is there any way to restore custody?
Video footage purportedly showing Swedish police removing three Syrian children from their parents has created a stir on social media.
In the video, a woman appears to be distressed and screaming as police restrain her as a child is carried away.
Some commentators have accused the authorities of "stealing refugee children." Others have defended the police, saying they must have had good reasons for removing the children.
InfoMigrants asked Jalal Mohammad Amin, a former lawyer in Syria and current legal adviser at Yekmal e.V. in Berlin, about parental custody cases in Germany:
InfoMigrants: In what cases would the authorities in Germany withdraw parents' custody of their children?
Jalal Mohammad Amin: All situations that affect the welfare of the child, both physically and psychologically. This imeans not only physical violence, but negligence in terms of the nutrition or health of the child are reasons for withdrawing custody. The assessment of the case remains the prerogative of the Department of Social Services and the courts.
Is violence in this case limited to physical or verbal violence?
Both. This is not limited to verbal violence towards the child, but if the conflict between the parents escalates to shouting and verbal violence, the welfare of the child is then put at risk.
Does losing custody have any relation to the parents' religion, ethnicity or being German or foreigners?
No, many German families have lost their children as a result of neglect, especially drug addicts.
Where are the children taken?
Initially to a nursery, but in a few cases the child is handed over to a foster family. However, difficult conditions must exist in the family. There are families that take care of children professionally called Pflegefamillie.
Is custody simply withdrawn overnight, or is there a time frame? What procedures are there to follow?
It is not that simple. Several meetings are held with the parents and they are advised to change their behavior towards the children. However, in the event of circumstances requiring speedy access, the Social Services Department will assist the police, if necessary, by taking the children until the court decides on the case.
What can parents do next to restore custody?
Parents should go back to the courts and object.
Can parents see and communicate with their children, according to the "Right of Visitation?"
Of course parents have the right to see children, unless the reason for withdrawing custody was harassment or sexual exploitation of the child.
Does this also apply to Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, or are there significant differences between these countries?
Child protection is agreed upon by all EU countries, but the mechanism is very different in different countries. Scandinavian countries, for example, are more stringent in child protection.