ADF International

German homeschoolers appeal to top European court

Summary

  • Wunderlich family brings case to highest level of European Court of Human Rights
  • Case could affect parental rights across Europe

STRASBOURG (9 April 2019) – Today, the Wunderlich family asked the Court to refer their case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. In January, the Fifth Section ruled that their rights had not been violated in 2013 when more than 30 police officers and social workers raided their home and forcefully removed the children from their parents. Now, they are seeking to bring their case to the highest level of the Court.

“Despite the right of parents to direct the education of their children being protected in international law, the Court ruled that the dawn raid on the family home was neither ‘particularly harsh (nor) exceptional.’ We will continue to support the Wunderlich family as they seek affirmation of their rights at the highest level of the European Court of Human Rights,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International and lead counsel for the Wunderlich Family.

Despite the right of parents to direct the education of their children being protected in international law, the Court ruled that the dawn raid on the family home was neither ‘particularly harsh (nor) exceptional.’ We will continue to support the Wunderlich family as they seek affirmation of their rights at the highest level of the European Court of Human Rights.

Ongoing legal struggle of Wunderlich family

In January, the Fifth Section of the European Court of Human Rights handed down its judgment in the case of Wunderlich v. Germany. In its decision, the Court ruled that there had not been a violation of the family’s rights when more than 30 police officers and social workers raided their home. Since then, the family has been embroiled in legal struggles seeking redress for this violation of their rights.

After courts in Germany ruled in favour of the government, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to take up the case in August 2016. The Court ruled against the German family, disregarding their right to private family life. Only a few weeks after the ruling, a German judge requested proof of the children’s school attendance despite the European Court acknowledging that it would not be appropriate to remove the children again as “it would have a greater impact on the children than being homeschooled by their parents.” With this, the family potentially face yet more legal proceedings.

“The first ruling of the European Court of Human Rights ignores the fact that Germany’s policy on homeschooling violates the rights of parents to educate their children and direct their upbringing. It is alarming to see that this was not recognized by the most influential human rights court in Europe. The ruling is a step in the wrong direction and should concern anyone who cares about freedom,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.

“The previous ruling was very disheartening for our family and the many families affected by this in Germany. After years of legal struggles, it was extremely frustrating for us and our children. It is upsetting that the European Court of Human Rights did not recognize the injustices we suffered at the hands of the German authorities. We are hopeful that the Grand Chamber will see the ways we tried, for many years, to engage with the authorities, and the completely disproportionate action they ultimately took,” said Dirk Wunderlich, father of the four children.

“The European Court of Human Rights must do the right thing to protect families. It is unconscionable that a human rights court would justify taking children by force from their family for no reason other than homeschooling. Homeschooling is a fundamental right of parents that is clearly recognized in international human rights law which all governments are obliged to respect and protect,” said Mike Donnelly, international homeschooling expert and Director of Global Outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association which has long supported the family in their legal struggles.

Find more information on the Wunderlich family’s case here.

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