UK court demands return of four Latvian children

LSM's Russian-language news have uncovered an unprecedented story about a British court ruling that four children - Latvian citizens - have to be returned to the United Kingdom to be put into foster care. The family has already left Britain via Ireland and is in all likelihood now residing in Latvia. The local authorities have no comment on the matter, reported rus.lsm.lv Monday.

"The father and mother shall return the children to the jurisdiction of England and Wales forthwith," according to the Blackburn with Darwen court judgement. 

"The local authority shall disclose this order and the Emergency Protection Order to the relevant authorities in the Republic of Ireland and Latvia," the judgement goes on. 

The court has ruled that the children have to be put into foster care "for a short period of time at least while circumstances are fully investigated". 

The family, not named in the court documents, is residing in the United Kingdom since 2011.

In November, one of the children, a child, named D in the ruling, was seen at school with a burn mark on his neck and another mark on his thigh. The child said his parents were responsible for the injuries.

Another child, N, was found to have bruising to the cheek. According to the court, the father said that the injury to the neck was caused by him in unclear accidental circumstances. The mother said that the injury to N's cheek arose from an incident in school.

The authorities and the parents agreed that while investigations took place, the children would be temporarily residing with the grandparents.

After about a week, the children did not turn up for school and it turned the parents had taken the children and left the district. The parents, according to the court, had contacted the Latvian Embassy, which in turn contacted the local authority, though there is no further information about the exchanges between the two.

According to the court, the six Latvian citizens had gone to Ireland, "apparently having left the UK to avoid these proceedings" and had a flight booked to Latvia.

The court judgement prohibited the parents to take the children to any country except England and stressed that the United Kingdom is the only place having jurisdiction over the children's safety. 

While a lawyer specializing in EU rights (the expert chose to remain anonymous) issues told rus.lsm.lv that EU regulations do indeed stipulate exclusive jurisdiction to the United Kingdom, as the place of residence of the family was the United Kingdom. 

Even if the family is physically in Latvia, EU regulations provide that the case be judged by the factual place of residence - that is, the United Kingdom. Thus the UK authorities can ask Latvia to return the children to carry out the judgement. 

The law expert said that Latvia can turn down the order if the Latvian diplomatic corps wasn't informed about the case according to the strict procedures of the international regulations.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry told rus.lsm.lv that the Justice Ministry is working with such cases.

The Justice Ministry said that it has no official information about the case so it cannot offer comment.

Children being taken from Latvian families abroad is a contested topic, ever since the case of Laila Brice's daughter being removed from her sent waves across the media and incited a small picket by the United Kingdom embassy in mid-2014.

Earlier, Latvian Radio reported that in 2013 the Latvian Embassy in the United Kingdom received information about 40 incidents related to childcare in the families of Latvian citizens. Last year the number grew to 89, while this year 79 cases were reported by October.

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