Swedish citizens of Arab origin and Muslims in Sweden organised an open sit-in, calling on the authorities to reconsider the separation of children from their families. Several demonstrations also took place in different cities to protest against the handling of social services employees with issues of taking children away from their families and the failure to reunite the families.
The protesters gathered last Wednesday in front of Parliament and this Wednesday, in central Stockholm, with the presence of a number of parents whose children the social services authorities took away and placed them with other families.
Ali Al-Sidani, one of the organisers of the sit-in and one of the affected parents in Sweden said: “We are here until our children are back. The school and the authorities concerned with travel. The purpose of the trip was to complete the treatment of my wife in Lebanon. When I returned with the children, they were immediately taken away, and until now I do not know their whereabouts.”
“Social services took my five- and nine-year-old daughters without allowing me to see them or even communicate with them,” he added.
Rafid, one of the protesting parents at the sit-in, said, “The school informed the social authorities of suspected violence at home towards my daughter when she was 12 years old, and the authorities took her away directly from school without our knowledge in 2017.”
“I have two children who were not taken, but they were interrogated. During the investigation, my children denied that there was violence at home or that they were being subjected to violence,” he added. He added that the authorities did not provide him with any support or any measure to reunite with his girl, and they did not even allow him to see her except once for an hour, in the presence of the social authorities, security men and members of the alternative family.
According to the Social Welfare Law, the responsibility to report is obligatory on all parties and institutions that deal with children in the event of concern or suspicion of violence against a child, whether psychological, material or physical, as school workers, health care, dental and places where children are located submit reports to the social authorities if violence is present or suspected.
The social authorities base their decisions on the “Adolescents’ Care and Social Care for Children” laws, which give the social authorities the power to take away children from their parents and grant custody of children and care to another family with the aim of providing care and obtaining a “safe place.”
We stress the need for the government to conduct impartial investigations by psychiatrists and not by the social authorities, due to many cases of injustice and arbitrary work by the employees of the social authorities who did not follow the laws, but based their decisions on prior judgments and suspicions.
We also point out the need to rehabilitate and educate newly arrived families to understand the laws and how to deal with their children, in addition to training workers in the Social Services Authority to understand those arriving from different communities.
We also call on the Swedish authorities to stop taking children away from their families, and to cooperate with the parents, and work in accordance to the law.