Embassy says there were urgent reasons children in Norway were taken from Czech parents

Eva Michaláková, photo: Czech Television

A Czech mother fighting for the return of her two sons in Norway, who the authorities took away from her and her former husband over alleged sexual abuse in 2011, will now see her children only twice a year for a total of 30 minutes. Although charges were never filed in the case, the brothers have lived in separate foster homes since.

Eva Michaláková, photo: Czech Television
Brothers David and Denis Michalák, born in Norway and now aged six and nine, were taken from their Czech parents in May 2011 following suspicion voiced by their nursery school that they had been sexually abused. According to reports, both boys at the time complained about the situation at home and there were physical indications in one of possible rape. The police conducted an investigation of both parents but charges never went ahead. All the same, the boys have since lived apart in separate foster homes; until now, Eva Michaláková, had been allowed to meet with the children for two hours annually. On Tuesday the time of those meetings was reduced – with the mother’s agreement apparently to avoid a decision on adoption – to two fifteen minute sessions a year. Ms Michaláková spoke to Czech TV:

“The terms set by the social services, I would say, are almost Nazi-like. During my meetings with the boys I will not able to take any pictures, not be able to lift them up, not even hug them.”

According to Czech TV, Norway had requested the children’s Czech passports on the grounds the children’s foster parents wanted to take them on vacation. But Ms Michaláková’s lawyer Pavel Hasenkopf said they were not his to give and were the property of the Czech state. The Norwegian Ambassador to Prague Siri Ellen Sletner, meanwhile on Tuesday spoke to Czech TV:

Jitka Chalánková, photo: TOP09
“You should know that we take very seriously the concerns that have been raised so far in the Czech Republic. The situation of the two brothers, or their case, has been properly dealt with by all the authorities in the Norwegian system. That also includes the courts.”

The Norwegian Embassy in Prague says the mother of the children had neglected to provide all the information as to why her children were taken away. Members of a Czech delegation which visited Norway and was present at proceedings on Tuesday, meanwhile, had different reactions to the latest developments: MP Jitka Chalánková expressed shock over what she witnessed and has since said she will ask the Czech Chamber of Deputies to consider international charges against Norway if all diplomatic channels fail.

But the Czech Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Michaela Marksová, who has been allowed to see parts of the dossier on the boys and was also present, had a different response, saying this:

“First and foremost as a mother myself I can sympathize to a point with Ms Michaláková. But the case really is very complex and I was able to see parts of the case file and there are things which back up what the ambassador said. There are things which are of a very intimate character from the family and I think the mother should not make them public.”

Michaela Marksová, photo: Filip Jandourek
She added that Norway simply would not reveal in detail what happened as the country was dedicated to the protection of children’s and parents’ privacy. The Norwegian Embassy in Prague meanwhile issued a statement on its website saying it was not true that the authorities had acted without reason. The embassy stated that taking children from their parents was never a “trifle” and “always a last resort”, making clear that in the case of the Michalák brothers, the reasons had been urgent and serious.