Embassy caught in custody drama

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Brazil’s embassy in Oslo has landed in the middle of a conflict between the Brazilian mother of a three-year-old child and child welfare authorities in Norway (Barnevernet). The authorities want to remove the child from her care, while both she and the child’s father agree that she should be allowed to return home to Brazil with the little girl.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the woman, who speaks neither Norwegian nor English, fled from the unidentified township in Norway where she’d been living with her daughter to the Brazilian embassy in Oslo last week. After a reported confrontation with police, she reportedly was allowed to enter the embassy, which is considered to be Brazilian territory. She reportedly has the full support of Brazil’s ambassador to Norway, Flávio Helmold Macieira.

Safe refuge
Embassy staff have since been taking care of both her and her young daughter since last Thursday, with the embassy acting as a safe refuge for them both. The mother’s lawyer, Sindre Løvgaard, told NRK that she refuses to leave the embassy until she wins assurances that she and her daughter will be allowed to leave the country and travel home to friends and family in Brazil.

The exact nature of the conflict with the child protection authorities remained unclear, beyond it being tied to a conflict between the child’s parents, but NRK reported that the child’s father has no objections to his daughter leaving Norway. With the authorities objecting, however, Løvgaard said the conflict was deadlocked.

“I can only say that we completely disagree that the authorities have any reason to take over responsibility for the child from the mother,” Løvgaard told NRK. He said the mother feels let down by Norway’s child protection officials, and that her inability to speak Norwegian or English and lack of familiarity with Norwegian culture “is being used against her in this case.”

Traveling to Brazil ‘the best solution’
Meanwhile, the child’s father told NRK that he agrees the best solution in the case is for the mother to travel home to Brazil with their daughter. “I support (her) wish that they travel to Brazil,” he told NRK. “As I see it, it’s the only solution. We don’t think this can be solved in court.”

Instead the conflict was turning into a thorny diplomatic standoff on Tuesday. “We accept Norwegian authorities’ laws and regulations, but appeal on a humanitarian basis, because we believe it is in the best interests of the child that the two be allowed to travel home,” Francisco Chagas Catunda Resende of the embassy told NRK. Resende noted that it is the embassy’s obligation to protect Brazilian citizens.

“We’re trying to resolve this case diplomatically with Norwegian authorities,” Resende said. “It is a very uncomfortable situation for the embassy.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund