Almost three years ago today, an unspeakable nightmare befell a loving innocent family simply because they wanted to educate their seven-year-old son from home. One normal summer’s day in 2009, Christer Johansson, a micro-engineer by trade, and his Indian wife Annie, approached their local school authority in anticipation of their family moving to India to fulfill their life-long dream of doing missionary work with orphanages. They explained to the school principal that they did not know for how long they would be in India but wanted to ensure that their son Domenic received a proper Swedish and Indian education while traveling. At the time in Sweden, home education was a legal option for children of Domenic’s age under these circumstances.
What happened next was inexplicable. As the family was on board the plane headed for India, police and social service workers came on board the aircraft and abducted Christer and Annie’s only child from them without just cause, without any accusation of abuse and without a warrant. During the last three years of this ordeal, Christer and Annie have been harassed by social service workers, treated like criminals, had their visitation rights severely limited—and for a period completely annulled—and were not even allowed to use an attorney of their own choosing.
This ordeal became so much for the family that one day Christer took Domenic away during the supervised visit, informing social services that he was going to be with Domenic at his father’s house. For this, Christer was put in jail for more than 30 days where he was placed in the general population with actual criminals. Even here, Christer was refused his right to use an attorney of his own choosing.
From the outset, the Alliance Defense Fund has been working with the Home School Legal Defense Association and Stockholm based children’s attorney Ruby Harrold-Claesson. ADF, joined by HSLDA and Mrs. Harrold-Claesson, filed two applications to the European Court of Human Rights complaining of the “state-napping” of Domenic Johansson and the gross violations of due process in not allowing the Johanssons to use an attorney of their own choosing. Multiple motions for emergency measures have also been filed.
As they say, however, the darkest hour is just before dawn. Recently, the Johanssons have finally begun winning key motions including being able to retain Mrs. Harrold-Claessson for domestic proceedings. And just this month, the Johanssons won their biggest victory yet. Because of the shear breadth of first hand testimony showing that the Johanssons were not only fit parents, but were exemplary and loving parents as well, the Children’s Court has ruled against a motion by the State that parental rights be terminated all together. The significance of this victory cannot be understated. It seems now just to be a matter of time before reunification will be accomplished.
In the meantime ADF will keep on fighting for this brave family, recognizing that the state has no right usurping the parental role which Christer and Annie were so capable of. Nor can the state kidnap a child just because it does not like the fact that the parents wish to exercise their right to home educate. The outpouring of prayers and support for the family has kept Christer and Annie going. We ask that you continue to keep them in your hearts and prayers until the finish line is crossed and Domenic finally gets to come home. Let us pray collectively that this nightmare ends swiftly and indefinitely.