Some 300 people have gathered at Prague's Hradčanské náměstí to protest against the practices of Norwegian Child Protection Service Barnevern and in support of families, whose children have been taken away. After the gathering, the participants marched to the seat of the Norwegian embassy at Malá Strana. Similar protests are taking place on Saturday in over ten European cities, including Brno, Dublin and Vienna. Czech Eva Michaláková, whose sons were taken away from her over alleged sexual abuse in 2011, is set to take part in the main protests in Oslo.
Norwegian authorities have said they will not allow a Czech mother to see her two children if she does not agree for adoption procedures for them to go forward. The latest twist in developments around the mother Eva Michaláková was made public by the Czech Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs on Wednesday. It said the Norwegian move was at odds with the assurances which they had previously given Prague. Czech minister Michaela Marksová described the latest step as surprising and said she would take steps to oppose it. The brothers are current living in Norway with separate foster parents and access by their mother severely restricted.
In recent years literacy experts have expressed concern that children are not reading enough for pleasure and that many youngsters are never read to by their parents. They claim that children who are left to fill their own time, watching TV and playing computer games may be at a serious disadvantage later on in life. In an effort to offset this alarming trend a Czech NGO is organizing an annual week of events to provide inspiration for a habit that may turnaround a child’s life.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has made a U-turn on a thorny issue that concerns thousands of women working abroad who are planning a family. After years when mums who commuted to work abroad were refused maternity benefits in the Czech Republic, the ministry has reviewed its policy on the matter and even make a small retro-active amendment. The decision was taken following criticism from the Ombudsman’s Office.
The Norwegian child welfare service has taken initial steps to open the way for the adoption of the younger of two Czech brothers who were taken from their parents in 2011. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Wednesday. The authorities took the step despite previous claim that adoption was not being considered. According to information received by the Czech Office for International Legal Protection of Children in April, the child welfare service asked the regional authorities to launch the proceedings that would enable the adoption of the younger son of Eva Michaláková. The boys were taken from their parents over alleged sexual abuse. Although charges were never filed in the case, the brothers have lived in separate foster homes since.
The future of some 470 children who were placed in children’s homes operated by the Fund for Children in Need is uncertain. To this day, the charity owes the state more than 22 million crowns in overdue social and health insurance payments for its employees, and currently faces a threat of property seizure.
The Constitutional Court will review a law banning gays and lesbians living in a registered partnership from adopting their partner’s child. A city court in Prague in March filed a proposal for abolishing the provision, which is included in the law on registered partnerships. According to the current legislation, gays and lesbians can adopt children only if they don’t live in a registered partnership. The law has been repeatedly criticised by a number of human rights organisations and initiatives. The Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Jiří Dienstbier has also been pushing for the abolition of the provision, calling it absurd and unconstitutional.
The lower house on Wednesday passed an amendment to the law that will prevent the closure of outdoor nurseries known as forest kindergartens. According to the new legislation, the alternative nurseries can be granted an exemption from the strict hygiene norms that apply to traditional preschool facilities. The so-called Children Groups Act was passed through the lower house in November to provide a legal framework for child-care alternatives, which appeared as a result of a lack of places in regular kindergartens.