Norwegian authorities take final step to take children from Czech mother

Eva Michaláková, photo: Filip Jandourek

Norwegian authorities have ruled that Czech national Eva Michaláková will lose parental rights to her two children: the authorities said that her six-year-old son can be adopted by his foster parents and ruled that she would also lose the right to see her older son, who is now ten. Norway’s Child Welfare Services, the Barnevernet, took the boys away from their biological parents four years ago on the suspicion they had suffered sexual abuse and neglect. However, details were never revealed to protect them.

Eva Michaláková,  photo: Filip Jandourek
The case of the Michalák boys is of course one that has been closely watched for years in the Czech Republic, and the fact is a number of politicians got involved to see if they couldn’t help. The crux of the problem is that the facts of the case were never fully divulged, to protect the children involved, leaving doubts in the mind of many. Mrs Michaláková, by one step after another, was denied any substantial contact with her sons. Now the younger boy could be adopted by his foster family and she will longer allowed to see the older child.

In the Czech Republic, the news on Tuesday caused nothing less than a political uproar: the Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaorálek, who called the ruling “outrageous”, wasted no time in summoning Norway’s Ambassador to Prague Siri Ellen Sletner. Others, such as Christian Democrat Euro MP Tomáš Zdechovský went so far as to call for the ambassador’s expulsion. The head-of-state Miloš Zeman latched on to the suggestion, calling it a “good idea”. Radio Prague spoke to MEP Petr Mach of the Free Citizens’ Party, who in the past was also involved in the case and had traveled to Norway to meet with authorities, after the news broke.

“Unfortunately, this decision is in line with others which preceded it by the Child Welfare services in Norway. I am very upset by the development. The fact is that we were promised and repeatedly told by the Norwegian ambassador to Prague that this adoption would not happen.”

Petr Mach,  photo: Czech Television
There is no question that stripping of a mother’s parental rights has drawn a very strong emotional response. It is not just MEPs who are calling for action, either. The prime minister himself has called an extraordinary meeting of ministers involved with the case. Meanwhile, Mrs Michaláková still has options open to her, albeit dwindling. She has appealed the decision already but MEP Petr Mach suggested, in his view, that the chance of success in Norwegian courts are not great. MEP Petr Mach:

“I understand that the mother is doing everything to get her children back. Definitely she will appeal and if she loses the case in Norway yet again, she will likely take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.”

He added that the government needed to step in and take action to try and have the case transferred to the Czech Republic where the Michalák boys have extended family.