- European Court of Human Rights rules against Wunderlich family
- Family to consider possible Grand Chamber appeal
STRASBOURG (10 January 2019) – Today, the European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment in the case of Wunderlich v. Germany. The ruling stated that the German authorities’ actions were not in violation of the Wunderlich family’s fundamental rights.
“We are extremely disappointed with this ruling of the Court. It disregards the rights of parents all over Europe to raise their children without disproportionate interference from the state. Petra and Dirk Wunderlich simply wanted to educate their children in line with their convictions and decided their home environment would be the best place for this. Children deserve this loving care from their parents. We are now advising the Wunderlichs of their options, including taking the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International and lead counsel for the Wunderlich family.
German ban on homeschooling
In August 2013, more than 30 police officers and social workers stormed the home of the Wunderlich family. The authorities brutally removed the children from their parents and their home, leaving the family traumatized. The children were ultimately returned to their parents but their legal status remained unclear as Germany is one of the few European countries that penalizes families who want to homeschool.
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. Now, the Court has ruled against the German family, disregarding their right to private family life. This leaves the family with the option of bringing the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, the highest level of the Court.
Violation of right to family life
“It is a very disheartening day for our family and the many families affected by this in Germany. After years of legal struggles, this is extremely frustrating for us and our children. It is upsetting that the European Court of Human Rights has not recognized the injustices we have suffered at the hands of the German authorities,” said Dirk Wunderlich, the father of the children.
“This ruling 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. This ruling is a step in the wrong direction and should concern anyone who cares about freedom,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.
“This judgement is a huge setback but we will not give up the fight to protect the fundamental right of parents to homeschool their children in Germany and across Europe,” 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 case here.