From The Copenhagen Post online:
Investigating child custody claims, EU delegation ignored by government
June 21, 2013
The group made the trip especially to speak with the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), the social affairs and integration minister, Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), and the national police commissioner, Jens Henrik Højberg, to discuss the growing number of cases the EU is seeing coming out of Denmark.
The petitions committee is designed to investigate concerns sent to them by EU residents. Being involved in human-rights cases is something of uncharted territory for the group that is more often called in to investigate and mediate issues like housing, environmental and land disputes.
Neither the ministers nor the police commissioner would meet with the delegation. They instead sent representatives who, according to Werthmann, told them they only had a “short time” to spend with them.
“I can say, without a doubt, that this committee has never, ever been treated in this fashion anywhere else,” a frustrated Werthmann said today during a press conference. “This is an official delegation of the EU.”
After failing to be granted an audience with the ministers, Werthmann and fellow delegates, MEP Peter Jahr from Germany and MEP Carlos Iturgaiz Angulo from Spain, then attempted to arrange meetings with rank-and-file MPs, only to find that most have already left for their summer holiday. …
To read the full story by Ray Weaver, click here to go to The Copenhagen Post online.
Pressrelease of the European Parliament concerning Tuesday´s meeting with the petitioners in Brussels (Feb. 11, 2014):
Petitions Committee´s Members tackle children´s rights!
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Committee on Petitions members considered some twenty seven petitions submitted by Danish and non-Danish (ex)partners/spouses of Danish citizens. Some of the petitioners were present at the meeting, others addressed it in video recordings.
The stories the Members heard from the mothers and father made a large emotional impact. Members were shocked at the descriptions of how the Danish authorities had dealt with or are still dealing with the cases of these petitioners.
From the petitioners’ statements a pattern arose of Danish authorities not willing to listen to complaints of primary caretakers and not reacting when mothers reported discrimination, violence and child abuse. Claims were made that the Danish police actively cooperates with the authorities and discriminates against foreign citizens. Also there were allegations about petitioners’ phones being tapped by the police and e-mails intercepted.
Representatives of the European Commission explained that there is little the Commission can do to help the petitioners as Denmark has opted out of a number of important chapters of EU law in the fields of justice and home affairs. This met with a very critical reaction from the members of the Committee.
According to Victor Boştinaru, Romanian MEP, it was clear from the statements given that the fundamental rights of the petitioners as well as their children were being violated in Denmark and that foreign citizens did not get equal treatment from the Danish authorities.
Peter Jahr, German MEP, who also was a member of the fact-finding visit a delegation of the PETI Committee had made to Denmark in June 2013, stated that an opt-out cannot result in discrimination of citizens. He supported the Commission’s initiative of drawing up guidelines for handling international custody and child welfare cases, and urged the Commission to investigate whether the rights of children were being violated in Denmark.
Margrete Auken, Danish MEP, agreed that the Danish opt-out should be removed but remained nevertheless sceptical on the Committee’s and the Commission’s ability to help the petitioners, because as she said “we only hear one side of the story”.
Austrian MEP Angelika Werthmann, leader of the fact-finding visit to Denmark in June 2013, stated that the opt-out can never mean that the European Charter of Fundamental rights can be ignored and called on the European Commission to seriously support the petitioners and their children in their basic rights. She also thought of the political implications that Denmark’s ignorance of the Charter of Fundamental Rights actually has and will have one day on these young European citizens. “Denmark has to respect European values; human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights are part of them. Denmark is an EU member state and must act as such”, concluded Angelika Werthmann with a view to the in many cases double discrimination presented today, “which is only the tip of the iceberg”.
The Chairwoman of Committee on Petitions Erminia Mazzoni expressed the concerns of the majority of the petitions committee. As decided at the end of the discussion, she would write a letter to the Danish government and invite it to react to the deliberations by the PETI Committee. Also a letter would be sent to Mrs Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, urging her to approach the Danish government to discuss changes in the way Denmark handles custody and child welfare cases.