By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Attorneys with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights asking it to hear the case of a seven-year-old boy seized by Swedish authorities because his parents homeschool.
According to the HSLDA, Swedish authorities forcibly removed Domenic Johansson from his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, in June 2009 from a plane they had boarded to move to Annie’s home country of India. The officials did not have a warrant nor have they charged the Johanssons with any crime.
The child was seized because authorities believe homeschooling is an inappropriate way to raise a child and insist the government should raise Domenic instead. Social services authorities have placed Domenic in foster care as well as a government school and are only allowing Christer and Annie to visit their son for one hour every five weeks.
“We are gravely concerned about this case because of the threat it represents to other homeschooling families,” said Mike Donnelly, staff attorney for HSLDA and one of nearly 1,700 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “In response to our inquiries, Swedish authorities have cited the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child to explain and defend their actions. If the U.S. were to ever ratify this treaty, as the White House and some members of Congress desire, then this sort of thing could occur here,” he added.
“Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their children’s education without government interference,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who is based in Europe. “A government trying to create a cookie-cutter child in its own image should not be allowed to violate this basic and fundamental human right. The refusal of Swedish authorities to respect that right has left us no choice but to take this case to the European Court of Human Rights.”
HSLDA and ADF attorneys decided to file Johansson v. Sweden with the European Court when the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden refused to review a lower court’s December 2009 ruling in Johansson v. Gotland Social Services that found that the government was within its rights to seize the child.
The lower court cited minor post-seizure medical concerns with Domenic as well as the provably false charges that homeschoolers do not perform well academically and are not well socialized as reasons to uphold the apparently permanent seizure of young Domenic.
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