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Slovak TV: British authorities taking Czech and Slovak Romani children from their families

London, 23.8.2012 17:17, (ROMEA)
ilustrační foto

Starting on Monday of this week, an investigative reporting series on the Slovak television channel Joj has been mapping the completely scandalous behavior of social workers in Great Britain who have been taking children away from Romani families living there. The families are originally from either the Czech Republic or Slovakia. One social worker took three children away from a Romani family originally from the Czech Republic when their youngest son was only six weeks old. British authorities have not given any reason as to why the children were taken away. The family is said to have taken exemplary care of them.

To view the episodes online (in Slovak only):

21 August: http://www.joj.sk/relacia-noviny/noviny-archiv/2012-08-21-noviny-tv-joj.html

22 August: http://www.joj.sk/relacia-noviny/noviny-archiv/2012-08-22-noviny-tv-joj.html

"It's a terrible feeling. No one has been able to help us - the powerlessness," father Štefan David says in the news report. After the children were taken away he reportedly attempted suicide out of desperation.

"Three social workers stormed into our apartment with about six police officers," mother Lucie Matejová said. The children's father was put in handcuffs and their three children were stolen from them before their very eyes. "It's very hard to look at their empty beds and pram," the mother said.

The video footage clearly shows that the family is living very well and that their home is in exemplary order. "I still don't know why they took them," the desperate mother told TV Joj reporters.

Local Romani people have already protested the situation in front of the court. They all say the family took good care of their children and lived an orderly life. "These parents are excellent, they took care of them," one protester said. "We will fight for them," says another as the crowd chants "Give us back our children!" A court hearing on the removal of the children was supposed to be held yesterday but was postponed.

Authorities have also removed five children from a Romani family originally from Slovakia. "We would like to return home, but we're not going anywhere without our children," says mother Veronika Č.

TV Joj attempted to determine the reason the children were removed from their families, but no British officials would comment on the case. Children can only be removed from the custody of their biological parents under the supervision of social workers.

The parents are also complaining that the rooms in which they are officially allowed to visit their children are completely empty, without beds, tables or toys. They are permitted to visit them for 90 minutes only, during which time social workers monitor and record everything. The parents say the children are often hungry and ask them for food, but they are forbidden to bring them home-cooked meals. Witnesses say the situation is one of psychological terror.

Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, TV Joj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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