News/The Brussels newspaper «Boulevard Voltaire» writes about Silje & Eira Garmo: «Will Poland soon become a country giving asylum to Norwegian families?»

The Brussels newspaper «Boulevard Voltaire» writes about Silje & Eira Garmo: «Will Poland soon become a country giving asylum to Norwegian families?»

April 05, 2018

Here is a translation from French to English of the article in the «Boulevard Voltaire newspaper: «LA POLOGNE BIENTÔT TERRE D’ASILE POUR LES FAMILLES NORVÉGIENNES?»

The Brussels newspaper «Boulevard Voltaire» writes about Silje & Eira Garmo: «Will Poland soon become a country giving asylum to Norwegian families?»

By Olivier Bault

«A Norwegian mother is anxiously awaiting for a decision of the Polish Foreign Minister regarding her asylum application from «the law and justice party» with Jaruslaw Kaczyński as its leader. The decision was expected in February – and then again on March 28 – but Minister Jacek Czaputowicz gave himself a new deadline for reflection until mid-April. However, the Polish Foreign Office has issued a favorable opinion, confirming that the citizen of Norway incurs in her country a serious risk for her family rights, and these rights are in general not respected in Norway.

Norway is currently responding to 8 cases in the European Court of Human Rights concerning children who have been forcefully taken from their families by the Child Welfare Ageny. Silje Garmo is not the first Norwegian to take refuge in Poland with her child, but she is the first to have applied for asylum there. She arrived in Poland in May 2017 with her daughter Eira, who is now 14 months old. She feared that the Norwegian government, represented by the Child Welfare Agency, would take custody of her daughter, whom she was raising alone. She was accused by officials of this institution of abusing analgesic drugs and having a chaotic lifestyle.

Residing today in the vicinity of Warsaw, Silje Garmo, whom I visited to talk about her case in the Polish weekly Do Rzeczy, does not give the impression of a mother to be removed from her child. Little Eira is calm and smiling, and she behaves like any child of her age. Garmo gladly produces copies of the certificates of Polish psychologists and pediatricians attached to her asylum application and confirms that there is no reason to withdraw Eira.

As extraordinary as it may seem, taking children forcefully out of their families by the state is a not uncommon practice in Norway. Norwegians know they have a problem, but the local political elite doesen’t seems not to dare tackling it. If the Polish government is still reluctant to grant asylum, it is not because it doubts the merits of the claim. The Norwegian problem is known in Poland because of Polish emigration. On the banks of the Vistula, the media sometimes speak of those parents and children to whom the Child Welfare Agency makes live a drama. In 2011, a Polish mother had succeeded in having her nine-year-old daughter taken out of the foster family, and broght back to Poland. She hired a Polish private detective and her team, and they were helped by the Polish consul, which provoked a diplomatic incident between the two countries. The Polish courts then refused to return the child to Norway, believing that it would have been against the child’s interests because of its emotional bond with the mother.

Does the Polish Foreign Minister fear diplomatic tensions with Oslo if they grants asylum to Silje Garmo and her daughter? In addition to the human aspect that favors a favorable response, granting asylum to a Norwegian woman and her daughter victims of the totalitarian practices of another European state would be a nice counterargument against the accusers of Poland. If Brussels is willing to talk about violations of the rule of law by the Polish government, Silje Garmo, on the contrary, chose Poland as a place of refuge precisely because she says she is confident in national justitial system and because «the respect for family life is deep rooted in Poland».

According to the Polish association of pro-life and pro-family lawyers Ordo Luris, who is assisting Garmo in her approach, other Norwegian families are already preparing to apply for asylum in Poland.»

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