Six years ago, seven year old Dominic Johannson was forcibly taken from his parents by Swedish officials – without a warrant or evidence of a crime. What they objected to was the fact that Domenic’s parents were home-schooling him. Not that home-schooling was illegal in Sweden … authorities just didn’t like it.
ADF International took on the case in 2010 – and has been fighting for the Johannson family ever since. Listen to the podcast here.
No evidence, no warrant
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.
Parental rights ignored
Police and social service workers abducted Christer and Annie’s only child from them without just cause
Annie and Christer wasted no time in launching legal proceedings in an effort to get their son back. ADF International and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) provided the family with legal support and pursued legal remedies in Sweden. But in December 2009, a Swedish court ruled that the government was within its rights to seize the child and keep him in foster care. ADF International and the HSLDA also filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the right to homeschooling, but the Court rejected the application.
In the meantime, Annie and Christer’s visiting rights were reduced, and finally the social council filed for the removal of their parental rights. The Swedish district court rejected the application to remove custody from the parents. This seemed like a positive development, until the Swedish Court of Appeal overturned the decision and allowed custody to be transferred to a legal guardian. Annie and Christer were left to keep fighting to get their son back.
No place like home
ADF International continued to stand with them, launching a new case to the ECHR in May 2016, based on the removal of parental rights and access.
‘After the district court victory, we had hoped the end of this nightmare was approaching,’ said HSLDA Director of International Relations Mike Donnelly, one of more than 2,200 allied attorneys with ADF International.
‘As the district court found, Annie and Christer Johansson are good parents. It is unconscionable that the court of appeals – or any court in a democratic country like Sweden – could somehow think that it is in Domenic’s best interest to remain separated from his parents. The pain, suffering, and harm done to this family are incalculable.’
ADF International will keep on fighting for this brave family and other families like them. Parental rights need to be protected on a national and international level.
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