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Denmark[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

[Note: This does not contain information about the implementation of the CRC in Denmark's territories, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands]

Upon ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] in July of 1991, Denmark submitted a reservation regarding Article 40(2)(b), which refers to right to appeal decisions in criminal cases.  In addition to its reservation on Article 40, Denmark declared that the CRC did not apply to Greenland and the Faeroe Islands.  Nevertheless, in March of 1992 the Landsting (Parliament) of Greenland approved the territory's accession to the Convention, and in May of 1993, Denmark withdrew its declaration regarding Greenland and the Faeroe Islands.  Ratified international treaties obtain the status of domestic law in Denmark, so the CRC can be invoked in domestic courts.

Denmark has a formal child protection system governed by the Social Services Law and the Decree on the Social Services Law.  The Børnerådet (National Council for Children) is an independent governmental organization responsible for assessing the state of children in Denmark, in general and with regard to the principles of the CRC; advising local authorities about children's conditions; and monitoring the implementation of children's policies.  Decisions about child protection cases are made by local social boards, and it is common for local authorities to involve private social services organizations in the resolution of child protection cases.  Cases may be appealed to the Social Appeals Board.

Denmark recently revised its legislation to reflect the provisions of Article 12 with regard to child protective proceedings.  A 2003 amendment to the Social Services Law mandated the consideration of the views of the child in protective proceedings, giving the views, “due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”[2]  Prior to this amendment, authorities were only required to take into account the views of children over 12.  Social welfare boards hear the views of children by consulting them directly.  Children over the age of 15 are currently considered parties to the proceedings.  Consequently, their consent must be obtained for certain actions and they are offered free legal representation.  Along with the amendment, Denmark made the implementation of Article 12 a priority, allocating DKr 60 million (approximately $9.4 million) to be used over a four-year period to educate caseworkers and others involved in social services about methods for interviewing children and the benefits of involving children in decisions. 

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

International Law

Konvention om Barnets Rettigheder[3]

Artikel 12

1. Deltagerstaterne skal sikre et barn, der er i stand til at udforme sine egne synspunkter, retten til frit at udtrykke disse synspunkter i alle forhold, der vedrører barnet; barnets synspunkter skal tillægges passende vægt i overensstemmelse med dets alder og modenhed.

2. Med henblik herpå skal barnet især gives mulighed for at udtale sig i enhver behandling ved dømmende myndighed eller forvaltningsmyndighed af sager, der vedrører barnet, enten direkte eller gennem en repræsentant eller et passende organ i overensstemmelse med de i national ret foreskrevne fremgangsmåder.

Laws

Lov om Social Service[4]

§ 46.  . . . Stk. 3. Barnets eller den unges synspunkter skal altid inddrages og tillægges passende vægt i overensstemmelse med alder og modenhed. . .

§ 48 . Forinden kommunalbestyrelsen træffer afgørelse efter §§ 51, 52, 56, 58, 62 og 63, § 65, stk. 2 og 4, og §§ 68-71 og 75, skal der finde en samtale sted med barnet eller den unge herom.

Stk. 2. Samtalen kan undlades, i det omfang barnets modenhed eller sagens karakter i afgørende grad taler imod samtalens gennemførelse. Kan samtalen ikke gennemføres, skal barnets holdning til den påtænkte afgørelse søges tilvejebragt.

§ 52. Kommunalbestyrelsen skal træffe afgørelse om foranstaltninger efter stk. 3, når det må anses for at være af væsentlig betydning af hensyn til et barns eller en ungs særlige behov for støtte. Afgørelsen træffes med samtykke fra forældremyndighedsindehaveren, jf. dog § 56. En afgørelse efter stk. 3, nr. 8, kræver tillige samtykke fra den unge, der er fyldt 15 år.

Stk. 3. Kommunalbestyrelsen kan iværksætte hjælp inden for følgende typer af tilbud:

6) Udpegning af en personlig rådgiver for barnet eller den unge.

7) Udpegning af en fast kontaktperson for barnet eller den unge og for hele familien.

8) Anbringelse af barnet eller den unge uden for hjemmet på et anbringelsessted, jf. § 66

§ 58.  Er der en åbenbar risiko for, at barnets eller den unges sundhed eller udvikling lider alvorlig skade på grund af

1) utilstrækkelig omsorg for eller behandling af barnet eller den unge,

2) vold eller andre alvorlige overgreb,

3) misbrugsproblemer, kriminel adfærd eller andre svære sociale vanskeligheder hos barnet eller den unge eller

4) andre adfærds eller tilpasningsproblemer hos barnet eller den unge,

kan børn og unge-udvalget uden samtykke fra forældremyndighedens indehaver og den unge, der er fyldt 15 år, træffe afgørelse om, at barnet eller den unge anbringes uden for hjemmet, jf. § 52, stk. 3, nr. 8. Der kan kun træffes en afgørelse efter 1. pkt., når der er begrundet formodning om, at problemerne ikke kan løses under barnets eller den unges fortsatte ophold i hjemmet.

Stk. 3. Såfremt en ung, der er fyldt 15 år, erklærer sig enig i anbringelsen, kan børn og ungeudvalget uanset betingelserne i stk. 1 træffe afgørelse om at anbringe den unge uden for hjemmet, jf. § 52, stk. 3, nr. 8, når anbringelsen må anses for at være af væsentlig betydning af hensyn til den unges særlige behov og problemerne ikke kan løses under den unges fortsatte ophold i hjemmet.

Decrees

Bekendtgørelse af lov om social service[5]

§ 58   Forinden myndigheden træffer afgørelse i en sag om foranstaltninger efter kapitel 8, og forinden der træffes afgørelse i en sag om ophør af en anbringelse, skal der finde en samtale sted med barnet eller den unge herom.

Stk. 2. Samtalen kan undlades, i det omfang barnets modenhed eller sagens karakter i afgørende grad taler imod samtalens gennemførelse. Kan samtalen ikke gennemføres, skal barnets holdning til den påtænkte foranstaltning og til spørgsmålet om ophør af anbringelse søges tilvejebragt.

§ 59. En indstilling om anbringelse uden for hjemmet efter § 42 skal indeholde en redegørelse for

5) barnets eller den unges holdning til den påtænkte foranstaltning.

§ 59 a. En indstilling om, at et barn eller en ung ikke kan hjemtages i op til 3 måneder efter § 42 a, skal indeholde en redegørelse for

4) barnets eller den unges holdning til den påtænkte foranstaltning

§ 60. . . Stk. 3. En ung, der er fyldt 15 år, skal have tilbud om gratis advokatbistand under en sag som nævnt i stk. 1, nr. 1-7.

§ 62. . . Stk. 2. Inden der træffes afgørelse, skal indehaveren af forældremyndigheden, barnet eller den unge, advokaten og eventuel anden bisidder for forældremyndighedens indehaver eller barnet eller den unge have lejlighed til at udtale sig over for børn og unge-udvalget. Tilbud efter 1. pkt. til barnet eller den unge kan undlades, hvis barnet er under 12 år, eller hvis det må antages at være til skade for barnet eller den unge.

 

Translations[6]

International Law

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [7] ratified Jul. 19, 1991

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

Laws

Social Services Law[8]

§ 46. . . . (3) The views of the child or youth shall always be taken into account, and be given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. . .  

§48 (1) Before the municipal council takes measures according to §§ 51, 52, 56, 58, 62, and 63, § 65, (2) and (4) and §§ 68-71 and 75, a consultation with the child or youth about this decision must take place. 

(2) The consultation can be omitted in the event that the child's maturity, or the character of the case, decisively precludes the realisation of the consultation. If the consultation cannot be realised, the child's opinion on the intended decision shall be attempted to be procured and taken into account.

§52 (1) The municipal council shall decide about arrangements according to (4), when it must be considered of significant importance in respect to a child or youth's special need of support. The decision is made with consent of the legal guardian, however; see § 56. A decision according to (3), # 8 further demands consent from the youth who is at least 15 years of age.

(3) The municipal council can initiate help within the following kinds of offers:

# 6: Appointment of a personal counselor for the child or youth.

# 7: Appointment of a stable contact person for the child or the youth and for the entire family.

# 8. Placement of the child or youth outside the home or at a placement center, see §66.

§58 (1) If there is an obvious chance that the health or development of the child or youth will be seriously harmed due to: 

#1: insufficient care or treatment for the child or youth,

#2: violence or other serious cases of abuse,

#3: addictions, criminal behavior, or other severe social difficulties with the child or youth or

#4: other behavioural or adjustment difficulties with the child or youth,

then the Children and Youths Committee can decide that the child or youth should be placed outside of the home without consent from the legal guardian and the youth who is at least 15 years of age, see § 52 (3) # 8.

(3) Insofar as a youth, who is at least 15 years of age, consents to his or her placement, the Children and Youths Committee can, regardless of the stipulations in (1), decide to place the youth outside the home, see § 52 (3) # 8, when the placement must be regarded to be of considerable concern in regards to the youth's special needs, and the problems cannot be solved if the youth continues to stay at home.

Decrees

Decree on Social Services Law[9]

Considerations regarding arrangements for children and youths

§58 (1) Before the government decides in a case about arrangements according to chapter 8, and before decision is made in a case of discontinuing a placement, a consultation with the child or youth shall take place.

(2) The consultation can be omitted in the event that the child's maturity, or the character of the case, decisively precludes the realisation of the consultation. If the consultation cannot be realised, the child's opinion to the intended decision shall be attempted to be procured and taken into account.

§59 A recommendation about placement outside the home according to § 42 shall contain an account of:

(5) The child or youth's opinion on the intended arrangement.

§ 59a A recommendation stating that the child or youth cannot be taken home in up to 3 months according to § 42 a, shall contain an account for:

(4): The child or youth's opinion on the intended arrangement.

§ 60 . . . (3) A youth, who is at least 15 years of age, shall be offered legal assistance free of charge in cases mentioned in (1) # 1-7.

§ 62 . . . (2) Before a decision is made, the legal guardian, the child or youth, the attorney and possible other representatives for the legal guardian or child or youth, shall have an opportunity to speak in front of the Children and Youths Committee. Offers as according to # 1 to the child or youth can be omitted if the child is less than 12 years of age or if it must be assumed to be of harm to the child or the youth.    

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Børnerådet— National Council for Children (In Danish and English): http://www.boerneraadet.dk/  

Dansk Ungdoms Fællesråd— Danish Youth Council (In Danish and English): http://www.duf.dk/   

Dansk Selskab til Forebyggelse af Børnemishandling og Omsorgssvigt— Danish Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (In Danish): http://www.daspcan.dk/  

Børnehjælpsdagen (In Danish): http://www.bhd.dk/  

Styrelsen for Social Service: Børn og unge— National Board of Social Services: Children and Youth (In Danish): http://www.servicestyrelsen.dk/wm139625  

Red Barnet— Save the Children-Denmark (In Danish and English): http://www.redbarnet.dk/   

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Social Services Law, Law No. 573 of Jun. 24, 2005, § 46(3) available at http://eng.social.dk/Legislation.html [Outdated version].

[3] Danish translation: G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989) available at http://www.menneskeret.dk/menneskeretieuropa/fn/fnboernekonvention/.

[4] Lov om Social Service [Social Services Law], nr 573 af 24/06/2005, § 46(3), 48, 52(1), (3)#6-8, 58(1), (3) available at http://www.social.dk/tvaergaaende_indgange/lovgivning/reglerogafgoerelser/allegaeldende/Serviceydelser/SocialService.html and also as .pdf Document.

[5] Bekendtgørelse af lov om social service [Decree on Social Services Law], nr 906 af 26/09/2005, § 58, 59(5), 59a(4), 60(3), 62(2) available at http://www.social.dk/tvaergaaende_indgange/lovgivning/reglerogafgoerelser/allegaeldende/Serviceydelser/SocialService.html and also as .pdf Document.

[6] The translations are not official.

[7] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).

[8] Social Services Law, § 46(3), 48, 52(1), (3)#6-8, 58(1), (3).

[9] Decree on Social Services Law, Decree No. 906 of Sept. 26, 2005, § 58, 59(5), 59a(4), 60(3), 62(2) (2005).

 

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