Guilty until proven innocent

Guilty until proven innocent

December 11, 2010
in Category: Uncategorized
3 1903 0

The following story sets a new low watermark for the Swedish justice system. On 13 November 2008, the father of a family living in Gothenburg had picked up his four months old son from his crib when he heard something snap, after which his son burst in tears. It turned out the toddler had broken his arm, and quickly they’re off to the ER, which concludes that the boy will recover. Per government regulation, the health care staff still file a report to the social services about the damage the toddler had suffered in his own home, one they deliver the following day. The same day, the 14th of November, they also make an appointment with specialists to investigate the boy for brittle bones, but this will be over two months into the future.

The social services is much faster, however. The same day they receive the report, they launch an investigation into this home, which involves contacting the parents and accusing them of abusing their child. After the social services threatens the parents with a seizure supported by the LVU law, they agree to move into an institution for observation, which the social services has suggested. The parents are told that this place is like a spa, and that it’s nothing to be concerned about.

Yet when they arrive, they find themselves placed in something they themselves describe as an “Eastern European orphanage,” having been mislead about this institution Birkahemmet. They’re informed that the government will take the child if they try to leave. So for the next seven weeks, the whole family has to live inside an institution, even over Christmas. Wonder what songs they sang there? Maybe something like this, with music from Jingle Bells:

Filing a report
To the social services
Into the home we go
Crying all the way
Social workers say
We’re awful parents
What fun it is to have to prove
We’re not like that at allOh, LVU, LVU
LVU the kids
Oh, what fun it is to see
the state take my children
LVU the kids
Oh, what fun it is to see
the state take my children

This Birkahemmet is mainly for mentally retarded people whom the government doesn’t think can manage parenting. It’s an understatement to say the parents are being treated in a humiliating way here. The webpage for this home ( offers a pdf document on parenting written by a psychologist by the name of Anders Broberg, who as only references lists three books authored by himself, and here is explained how many ways there are of harmful biological parenting which can constitute abuse to a child. Among other things it’s seen as pathological if a child doesn’t seek safety with his parents when faced with danger, which I can agree on. The opposite behaviour is also supposedly pathological – the “ambivalent” child that seeks safety and intimacy when not faced with danger, which I find harder to understand. Naturally the document ends by stressing the need for government intervention – placement into foster care if the biological parenthood isn’t perfect.

After the doctor had concluded the child might be suffering from brittle bones, the social services drop their investigation, and now the parents attempt to sue the government because of the violation of their integrity they’ve had to endure and that they were deceived into moving the institutions under false impressions. They ask for 300’000 crowns or about $45’000, and charge the government with kidnapping for having deprived them of their liberty. Yet when the district court delivered its verdict a week ago, the social services is cleared of these charges, though the court admits they were misled about what kind of an institution Birkahemmet was. Since the lawsuit is unsuccessful, the parents are left paying both their own legal costs (an unknown amount) as well as that of the social services (30’750 crowns plus interest).

It might be nothing more than my suspicious nature, but I definitely see the district court sending the little guy a message here, by leaving the parents with all the legal costs: “Don’t even think you can sue the government!”

Source: Göteborgs-Posten, 4 December 2010

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Daniel Hammarberg

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