At an emotional gathering in front of the British Embassy in Bratislava yesterday afternoon, about 300-400 people expressed their sympathy and support for the case of Mrs B, whose children were taken from her by Social services in the UK two years ago.
The protesters, many of them mothers with young children and worried grandparents with grandchildren in the UK, gathered silently at first in front of the empty Embassy building. A few police were on hand along with the embassy security service, but this was to be no violent demonstration, rather one of tears. Armed only with banners and a passion to draw attention to the problem, the protesters wept and clapped as people gave speeches through a megaphone.
Almost at the same time, the Court of Appeal in the UK was deciding to extend the appeal deadline in the B family’s case, which it did, giving them a ray of hope that they will be reunited. The court in London issued an unprecedented ruling, essentially freezing the earlier judgement to put the two sons of the B family up for adoption. This will now allow the grandmother to put the case forward for the children to be given to her care. This is apparently the first time the court has intervened in such a private case in this way.
Lord Justice McFarlane ruled that the grandmother could appeal the family court judge’s ruling, saying there was an arguable case that the family court judge my have “fallen into error”.
Shortly after the protest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called a press conference at which it explained how it was essentially powerless to intervene with the British judicial or social system, but that it had given and will continue to give its full support to the family and keep communicating on the diplomatic level with its UK counterparts.
According to estimates of the Centre for International Legal Protection of Children and Youth, some 38 Slovak families may have had their children taken away from them by the Social services. The Centre is the body that families should turn to if they need legal assistance.