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November 23, 2013 permalink
In Britain a family can be jailed for talking to their children about matters the social worker thinks of as inappropriate.
We can send you to jail for objecting to an offence we’ve yet to specify
Lord Munby has an uphill struggle on his hands
What an odd country we are, prepared to give record sums for the victims of the Philippines disaster, or to express outrage at the murder of children such as “Baby P”, but oblivious to the scandal whereby thousands of families are torn apart each year for seemingly no good reason by our secret family courts system.
The only public figure who appears to acknowledge that the best way to root out the frightening abuses of that system is to open it up to “the glare of publicity” is the man who is now head of it – Sir James Munby, president of the family courts.
One particular abuse at which his admirable but so far fairly lonely campaign is directed is the “draconian gagging” of parents who feel that they and their children have become victims of “punishment without crime”.
So far, his fellow judges have shown little sign of supporting him. In yet another harrowing case that I have been following, two foreign-born parents are so angry at what they see as the unjustified snatching of their five children by social workers that, like others before them, they have been using Facebook and YouTube to blazon their case across the internet.
This has so enraged the judge in the case that, as I gather from others trying to support the parents, she recently issued unusually tough gagging orders, threatening them with prison not only if they breathe a word about their case to anyone outside the courtroom, but also if they discuss a long list of subjects when they are allowed to meet their children, now living unhappily in foster care, during supervised “contact sessions”.
Not a word can be spoken to the children about any aspect of their “case”, such as plans being made for their adoption. The parents are thus forbidden to speak to the children in their own language.
But what particularly strikes outsiders who have seen the “contact order” is a clause threatening the parents with prison if they “discuss any matter that the contact worker indicates is inappropriate”. As one with some legal experience asks, “Under what law has a judge been authorised to threaten a parent with imprisonment simply because some person, unspecified, may consider that some matter, unspecified, is not ‘appropriate’?”
In trying to persuade his fellow judges not to impose “draconian” gagging orders, Lord Justice Munby seems to have an uphill struggle on his hands.
Source: Telegraph (UK)