Mother to sue over 'wrongful removal' of children by Dutch social services

Katie O'Neill
The case of the Antanova children was raised in the European Parliament in 2014 - Moment RF

A mother who says her two children were wrongfully taken into care shortly after their ninth birthday by Dutch social services intends to launch legal action against the authorities who handled the case.

On March 23, 2012, Nikolai and Anastasia Antonova were removed from their mother’s care. Among the reasons cited for their removal was that the children spoke their mother Jelena’s native language Russian at home, not Dutch.

Social workers also claimed their mother might flee with them to Latvia to escape the children’s estranged father.

The children had “severely conflicting loyalties” to their parents, social workers who were working closely with their father said.

The children had previously said they were frightened of their father and did not want to see him again.

The original care order was instituted for a year but was subsequently extended on several occasions.

Ms Antonova alleges that the children were held without the right legal permission.

The Dutch Court of Appeal made repeated rulings that the children should be reunited with their mother but these were overturned when the child protection board, part of the justice ministry, sought the extension of the care order in a lower family court.

The family’s case was first highlighted by the late Christopher Booker in a series of columns for The Sunday Telegraph.

The case was also raised in the European parliament in March 2014. MEPs were shown a video of the children being taken away from their home, captured by their brother Ilja Antonovs.  

The children were eventually permanently reunited with their mother in November 2014 after two years and eight months when a judge ruled that they should never have been removed from their mother’s care.

The order followed a report from a family psychologist Dr De Jong who concluded that Ms Antonova was not guilty of neglect.

Jelena Antonova was subsequently granted permission to question, under oath, social workers who handled the case and officials from two different authorities connected to the children’s care.

On June 18 and September 2 Ms Antonova questioned social workers and is now preparing to sue three parties linked to the ordeal; Salvation Army Youth Protection, the Ministry of Justice and Security and the youth protection service of Gelderland province.

During the questioning, a number of flaws in the conduct of youth care emerged, the family claims.  They are now suing the three parties for the “unlawful and careless removal of the children”, claiming they are liable “for the damage suffered and to be suffered” by the family.

Youth Protection said it is prohibited from commenting on individual cases. The Netherlands Salvation Army said it does not respond to individual cases but pointed out that Salvation Army Youth Protection always acts under the instruction of the Dutch legal authorities.

The Ministry of Justice and Security and Gelderland youth protection did not respond to repeated requests for comment this week.