I. A catalogue of lies and abuses
See the following posts for a catalogue of lies and knowing abuses of power by the officials of the Jugendamt against members of the Twelve Tribes because of their religion.
- The post, “Irrepairable Damage” is a moving plea from Besorah Schott for the release of the children, and a telling testimony of the lies told by the Jugendamt.
- “Rehabilitation of Moral Courage” — Unfavorable comparison of the moral courage show by Paul Grüninger in 1938-39, where he saved thousands of Austrian Jews and other refugees, with what we encountered November 8, 2013 (also in Switzerland).
- “The Jugendamt Tries to Deprogram the Children of the Twelve Tribes” — Meeting with anti-cult experts to inform and dissuade foster parents against the parents of the Twelve Tribes…so that they can influence the children against their parents.
- “Are the Twelve Tribes Children Being Deprogrammed by the Jugendamt?“
- “Response to the District Office Donau-Ries” — Response of the Community to the attempt by the authorities to seize again two girls who had run away from foster care at the peril of their lives: Nechonah Pfeiffer and Chassidah Markeli.
- “Third Raid Press Release” — First response to the third raid to seize the above two girls.
- “Why is Ishah not Happy in Foster Care?” Ishah Schott’s touching card to her parents.
- “A Space Outside the Law” — This is the space where the Jugendamt operates…outside the law.
- “Thanks for Your Support” — Tells of how anti-Twelve Tribes submissions were promptly and effectively placed in the files of the families, and letters in favor of the parents had to be just so with every formality of paperwork correct.
- “Open Letter to Herr Kanth” — Painful story of a once warm and open relationship with the local head of the Jugendamt.
- “I Want to Go Home! I do not Belong Here!” — Gripping story of a child seized against her free will and held in bondage until her daring escape to freedom – and the loving care of her parents.
- “Markeli Family is Together Again!” — Tells of her escape from captivity.
There are many more posts we could list, too, but these are a good start. For all of them click on the link “Jugendamt Lies.”
II. Important links about the Jugendamt
The Bamberg Declaration of October 2007 (Chair: Annelise Oeschger, President of the INGO Conference of the Council of Europe).
League for Children’s Rights 2009, which quotes a well-known German professor: the Jugendamt operates in a “space outside the law” (p. 2).
III. Insights into the Jugendamt’s history, Functioning, and Finances:
Seminário Bilateral Brasil-Alemanha
em Temas de Direitos Humanos
Faculdade Nacional de Direito da UFRJ
De 20 a 22 de maio de 2013, Rio de Janeiro
Jacy Raduan-Berger, Advogada em São Paulo, Pós-Graduação em Direito –
Magister Legum na Universidade de Trier, Alemanha
In April 2013, UNICEF published its latest study on the “subjective well-being of children and adolescents in rich countries.” Analysis were made in 29 industrialized countries where children between 11 and 15 years old were interviewed. Subjective factors analyzed were life satisfaction, relationships with parents and friends, subjective education and health.
Germany, which still occupies the 5th position in the overall ranking, has reason to worry, because one child out of every seven is considered dissatisfied with his own life, a result which places the country in 22nd place in the aspect of life satisfaction. In relation to relative poverty, i.e., the material well-being, Germany currently holds the 11th position, up two positions compared to the previous study, which means an intermediate position.
The fact is that, despite the apparent improved living conditions, the way children and adolescents feel in Germany is very bad and is getting worse all the time. In no other industrialized country there is such a great gap between the objective factor and this subjective factor.
To better understand what is happening then you must wonder where the problem is, whether it is in the family or perhaps in the German family policy. It seems certain that there is no problem with the family according to this study, because in the inquiries about relationship with parents and friends, the children were satisfied.
Clearly, to understand the possible cause of the dissatisfaction of children and adolescents in Germany, one must analyze the current German policy to which families are subjected.
With regard to family problems, the Jugendamt has the task of ensuring the welfare of the child. This institution is a sort of expert and advisory body with tasks in a format that exists only in Germany. Therefore, its existence in Europe for years now, is controversial, and to avoid confusion with Guardianship Councils in the rest of the world, including the European Parliament, it is advisable to refer to that body by the original name in the German language – Jugendamt.
The Jugendamt was organized in the post War period to provide aid for children and teens in need, many of them orphans of war; they needed to be housed in new homes. Currently there are no more orphans of war in Germany, but the Jugendamt endures. Unlike the rest of the world, Germany has created a Guardian Council that is not subject to administrative or technical control of any superior body, i.e.. it is independent and autonomous.
The existing law, SGB VIII, which regulates the rights of the family, also allows the Jugendamt, in the name of the well-being of the child, to make any intervention on the family without judicial order. Thus, the Jugendamt is incredibly powerful and acts as “Political Judge.”
This is therefore an even greater power than the power of the police. The last one, for example, needs to obtain a court order to enter into a residence and effect a search and seizure, while the Jugendamt can enter the residence of a family without a court order, without even an expert report, and take a child under the claim that he/she could be at risk with their parents. This not rarely leads to alleged precaution and to the search of evidences justifying such brutality in order to obtain judicial approval of such an arbitrary act.
Basically Jugendamt is governed by the principle of the welfare of the child, but only under its subjective focus. The Jugendamt behaves like a third parent for the children living in Germany as well as for German children living abroad.
Unfortunately, mistakes and abuses of power have been found relating to these actions to help children and adolescents taken by the Jugendamt, in the name of the well-being of the child, but actually the employees defend their own interests and those of the German social policy. Such abuses are evident and violate the human rights of children and adolescents, as well as of the parents and have been brought to the attention of the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights for many years now.
One of the probable causes for the current structure of the German family policy is the population development and the demographic problem in Germany. The German family policy claim to reverse the serious situation of population decline; it is, however, far from succeeding. Since the 1960s the birth rate has been lower than the mortality rate. In 2011, there were 190,000 more deaths than births. This negative natural balance is a major factor of population decline. Since the mid 1990s the population has stabilized at around 82 million.
Nevertheless, the German official forecast for the year 2060 is not encouraging. The forecast considers namely three factors;
1. Birth rate remained at 1.4 children per woman;
2. Increasing life expectancy for men 85 years and women 89.2 years;
3. Immigration, positive balance of at least 100,000 and maximum 200,000 people.
This is the only factor that has oscillation. Should these factors occur, the population decline expected for 2060 is between 17 and 12 million people compared to 2011.
In 2012 there was even a negative difference in the balance of births and deaths 10,000 higher than in 2011. However, it is worth mentioning that after eight years of population decline, there was an increase for the second consecutive year, thanks to the positive balance of 340,000 immigrants who left their countries due to the current financial crisis.
It is noteworthy that the age structure of people considered 100% German is quite different from the rest of the population living in Germany. In 2011, 9% of the population was made up of foreigners and 19.5% of the population of people of immigrant origin.
Germany has developed in recent decades into a country of immigration. However, the legal conditions as, for example, dual citizenship also play a crucial role. Since the modification of the ruling of the rights of citizenship, children of foreign parents acquire German citizenship at birth if one parent has been living legally in Germany for eight years and has a permanent visa. Upon reaching adulthood, the young adult will have to choose between the German and the foreign nationality.
This population analysis is important because women of foreign descent, as well as binational couples have significantly more children than the Germans and thus compose the young population group. However, the foreign woman who earlier had an average of two children now has 1.6.
The major concern is that while decreasing, the population is also aging. At best, in the year 2050, 39 million people between 20 and 65, would have to sustain 11 million children and adolescents and 23 million elderly people. These two groups are economically inactive and very costly to the state. Here it is:
• Increasingly fewer people will have to work (contributors)…
• for more people (pensioners and invalids)…
• who will increasingly live longer (luckily)..
• and become increasingly more expensive (since they will receive larger pensions and health spending).
If this trend is confirmed, the social system is going to head towards a crisis and that is why the German Federal Statistics Office has declared that in Germany every birth is an “event”.
The German Government has sought to draw a demographic strategy to reverse the trend of today. The demographic strategy logo of the Federal Government of Germany, “Every age counts”.
ATTEMPT TO SOLVE THE DEMOGRAPHIC PROBLEM AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
The German Government has been trying to find a solution to this problem providing some financial benefits for families with children. The government controls, while offering different kinds of help through the Jugendamt, children and adolescents. These aids cost to the German financial reserves in 2011 almost 28 billion euros, equivalent to 10 billion more than in 2001 but have not achieved their goal.
The control is exercised in a way that young families feel under pressure and have constant fear of the Jugendamt and can not freely raise their children. Suffice to say, a false anonymous report to the Jugendamt is enough for a family to lose their children for many years. Either for financial reasons or convenience, the fact is that the Jugendamt is increasingly prioritizing the policy of mass removal of children from their families to put them in shelters, foster families and adoption at a cost of about Euro 4,000.00/month up to 7,000.00 Euro/month per child, with an annual cost exceeding 20 billion Euros/year.
In 2011, there were about 16 thousands custody court procedures in the German Family Courts and in approximately 13,000 cases the final decision was the partial or complete withdrawal of parental rights.
In 2011 in Germany, 37,675 children were taken into the custody of the Jugendamt. It is an increase of 36% compared to 2007 figures. Compared to 2010 there was an increase of 14.4%. This results in more than 100 children per day that are abruptly removed from their parents and put in psychiatric clinics, shelters or foster families. It is worth noting that 9,121 of these children are not German! Moreover despite the fact that the foreign population in Germany corresponds to the 9%, about 30% of the children taken into the custody of the Jugendamt are foreigners.
It is not possible to know exactly the number of children in Germany who are put in shelters, as they are transferred several times, so that the exact number is difficult to determine. The Association of Children Shelter estimates that 300,000 to 350,000 children are permanently being cared for out of their parents’ houses.
Families are being separated and children are being raised by the state and under its rules.
In addition to the above measures to protect children from their families, there is also another way to help which is much cheaper and more effective. This is the itinerant help (temporary assistance) i.e. the provision of a helper for household activities such as cleaning, as well as a private tutoring, or a nanny, etc. Unfortunately this has been offered very little and little requested as well because of the population loss of confidence in the Jugendamt.
For example, a mother who requires the help of a housekeeper or nanny twice a week, is often considered overloaded. In order to justify her request for help she says that she is overloaded. One of the most frequent justifications of the Jugendamt to remove a child from the family is the fact that the mother is overloaded. Thus, she loses her child.
Experts and fans of the attachment theory consider the temporary assistance measures as the best solution in almost all cases of children who are today in the custody of the Jugendamt.
Furthermore the vast majority have been removed because their parents had problems in dealing with officials of the Jugendamt and/or had difficulty in dealing with the visiting rights of the other parent. These children were removed “preemptively” to be protected from an alleged psychological harm that their parents could cause them.
This first aspect is contrary to the law because the removal should never be intended as a punishment for the parents or their children, but should be used as a last option.
The second aspect, due to the many gaps in the law, allows this to happen, since the refusal of visiting rights are listed in the “Catalogue of the dangers” of § 1666 BGB. Exceptions are not listed, i.e. nothing justifies the denial of the visiting rights by one parent against the other. For example, a mother who decides to separate from her husband because she has been beaten up by him in front of the child, has the obligation immediately after separation to allow the child to live with the father.
The “preventive removal” is not recognized by law. With hindsight, a growing number of unnecessary removals is observed. However, due to the unnecessary removal, children suffer heavy trauma and often need to undergo medical treatments even many years later due to the consequences of this type of “errors” of the Jugendamt.
And worse, the law does not make any provision for the hypothesis of error on the part of an employee of the Jugendamt. The justification for the Jugendamt’s many errors is that the greater is the number of removals, the higher is the spending and fewer resources can therefore be used to hire qualified employees. Thus, the current employees are overworked and do not have enough time to devote to the analysis of each individual case. Therefore more and more errors are made by employees who remain unpunished.
Before the 2008 financial crisis, the most affected families were from the lower class and foreign families. These are less able to fight against the arbitrariness of the Jugendamt and of the Justice, because they do not have knowledge and sufficient financial resources to do so. In the aftermath of this crisis, which significantly affected Germany, there was an increase of people in need and many middle-class families and well qualified, including professionals in education of children, such as school teachers and university professors, lost their jobs and fell to the lower class and become targets of the Jugendamt and its arbitrary acts.
It is also increasingly common for children to be removed from graduated parents especially when they are gifted. These families denounce the problem by demonstrating. However it is almost impossible to reverse a decision of the Jugendamt, since inexperienced judges working in Family Courts do not contradict the recommendations of the Jugendamt, which is supposed to be the national expert on child welfare, and grant therefore court approval to its administrative decisions.
There is moreover no superior independent judicial entity to carry out administrative proceedings against the officials of the Jugendamt. Even if the psychosocial reports are contested, the legal experts are linked to and dependent on the Jugendamt. Besides, the appointment of expert assistants is not permitted. Moreover, we have to acknowledge even the total absurdity of making such reports from the distance. In most cases, the reports are only made after removals to justify them. Families complain that these reports are biased and partial.
One of the worst situations one might experience in life is the loss of a child. Soon after the removal, experts analyze parents and label them unfit to raise their children in an individual and subjective analysis, by presenting psychological disorders justifying removal.
Families, who lost their children that are suffering from severe depression and have to undergo psychiatric treatment, often do not recover, and can even never be able to work again. Germany is the country with the largest number of psychiatric beds in the world, probably because the demand is so high. Children that were removed unnecessarily from their families and have lived in shelters, suffer from strong psychological disorders and are more likely to use drugs and commit crimes and suicides. Associations of former inmates know this problem well and are asking for the closure of shelters.
THE HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE CIVIL RIGHTS ASPECTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL ABDUCTION OF CHILDREN
Many protests against Jugendamt are made by foreign parents and descendants of foreigners, including parents who live outside Germany that are prohibited from exercising their Parental Rights. This is happening because the other way that Germany uses to “protect” their children, i.e., the method used so that children can not leave the country with their parents, is a violation of the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction as well as a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The German demographic trend alone explains how a child is really important to Germany. What is becoming interesting for German politics in family issues, will be executed by the Executive Branch via the Jugendamt, according to the expectations of the legislative body and under the confirmations of the judicial power.
As soon as the news of conflict between parents comes any relevant administrative or judicial body to settle it, they already assume, and unanimously, that the best interest of children and their well-being are supposed to be achieved exclusively in Germany. This also occurs when the child’s presence in the country has already been filed as a case of international kidnapping. And even worse, it also happens that even living in Germany can lead to the interruption of any contact with the parent having the strongest bond and with the country of habitual residence. The situations are worked out to justify the need for child to stay in Germany, while crossing the border, even if only temporarily and for the purpose of family reunion, corresponds to an alleged harm to the welfare of the child or even an alleged harm to the child.
The hope is that the parents are loyal to Germany and want to raise their children in Germany, if they don’t, they will lose their children and could easily be criminalized.
The German justice is strict with parents who look forward to or carry out the kidnapping as established in Article 3 of the Hague Convention, i.e., when they, against the will of those who exercise custody, jointly or alone, retain or transfer the child abroad. These parents will be judged for this act under criminal law and will hardly ever be allowed again to raise their children. They will also likely have difficulties in exercising their rights to see the child.
However, when kidnapping is carried out in the opposite direction, that is from abroad to Germany and the foreign country is notified to cooperate in solving the case, the following occurs:
1. There are no efforts to reconcile the parties;
2. As a rule, requests for repatriation are dismissed in court, although the obligation of immediate return of the children to their country of habitual residence is established in Articles 12 and 13 of the Hague Convention. The German court is making an indiscriminate use of the above articles:
a. When the request for repatriation is filed in court one year after the kidnapping, the child is considered adapted to the new environment without any kind of examination.
b. If the request is filed before the first year, the return of the child is considered as a serious risk, which could lead to some sort of psychological problem.
3. Another usual justification for no return is not to deny the will of the child, when it is against repatriation.
Thus, these kidnappings become legal. Moreover, consequently, the child remains in Germany and under its jurisdiction. The competent German court will have sufficient evidence, provided by the Jugendamt and including experts, to award custody to the kidnapping parent. This is a real outrage to the objectives of the Convention, which prescribes the prompt return of children to avoid any damage that the change of habitual residence can cause when parents act unlawfully, and also to prevent parents from to taking the children and bring them under the tutelage of a jurisdiction that favors them.
On 1 January 2000 the Convention Hague entered into force in Brazil. At first the Justice Department faced many difficulties in its application, but it tends to improve. However, the Brazilian authorities designated to work in cases of international child abduction are unaware of interpretations, subtleties and quirks that each signatory State applies both in the administrative and in the judicial sphere, causing the permanent loss of the right of return through the Hague Convention.
Since 2004, Brazil has a history of cases with Germany. Until now there are 28 closed cases, in which Brazil has played an active part for 8 times and a passive role the other 20 times. Currently 5 cases are being examined, including the rights to see the child, being the defendant in Brazil. Germany has never returned a child to Brazil. On the contrary, Brazil has repatriated 10 children by settlement and 2 by judgment. Analyzing these figures realistically, the relationship between Brazil and Germany cannot be regarded as good.
Other signatory states like USA and France also face the same situation with Germany, which lives up to a poor reputation abroad with regard to international child abduction.
THE PROTESTS AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
At present, the number of parents who come together to protest the current German family policy is noticeably growing. On 20.09.2012, the International day of Children, there were several street protests in several German cities. Parents have gone so far as to start hunger and thirst strikes in many European countries asking to cease arbitrariness, cease the abductions, that their children are repatriated, that may return home, etc.
The European Parliament has been receiving since 2008 petitions from parents and grandparents, who denounce the arbitrariness of Germany with regard to their children, and ask for the extinction of the Jugendamt, since this German Guardianship Council has no equivalent, in this form, in the European Community.
Due to the huge amount of petitions sent to the Parliament by the parents that have been separated from their children, its Committee on Petitions sought explanations from the German Government in Berlin, and published in 2009 and in 2012 the Working Document concerning the alleged discriminatory measures and arbitrary actions by social services towards children in certain Member States, in particular the Jugendamt in Germany. The committee made some recommendations to the Jugendamt, namely:
• Guidelines and instructions shall be provided to all Jugendamt offices, reminding them of their responsibilities and the fundamental rights of parents and minors in their charge.
• All languages of the parents should be permitted or acquiesced unhindered by the authorities involved in the visits of the parents in institutional settings.
• All parents should be informed by the Jugendamt about their rights of appeal against the decisions taken and the conditions under which appeals may be filed.
• All Member States should be encouraged to foster greater democratic scrutiny or parliamentary on national and regional levels, on the welfare services to children and thus giving citizens the opportunity to seek effective solutions closer to their interest.
• Increased bilateral cooperation between social services for children of different Member States should be promoted strongly to improve coordination and understanding between officials and streamline the decision-making process in defense of the supreme interests of the children.
One can understand here that if the Parliament makes these types of recommendations, it is clear that the complaints were justified and it actually happens that parents consider arbitrariness any violation of their rights as parents and individuals and in particular any violation of the rights of their children.
It can certainly be said that these practices also violate the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and Adolescent and that Germany has been condemned by the European Human Rights Courts and is yet reluctant to restructure its legal system in order to have a good implementation of international conventions to which it is a signatory.
It is certain that families living under the influence of this German family policy can not feel satisfied and happy. It is certain that women are losing the desire to have children in Germany, especially foreigners and those with smaller income because they are at a greater risk of losing their children.
It is certain that with the increase in population through immigration, the population will have a very large number of binational couples and children with foreign descent. With this, there is a great tendency of increasing conflict between binational couples and hence an increase of international child abductions.
It is also certain that these binational couples who today correspond to couples who have more children will have fewer children. They will recognize the added potential risks of losing their child to the German parent or to the Jugendamt. Moreover, they can hardly leave Germany with their children to live in their country of origin.
And it is certain that the perspective for the demographic development in Germany does not improve. Germany, even though it occupies the top rank as a country that provides the best quality of life for children under the objective aspect, in case it does not modify its family policy,
will not have children that consider themselves happy, because it is certain that the financial comfort will never replace the love and affection of a family and it will never repair the damage caused in families that have had the displeasure of being “helped” by the Jugendamt.