- German court rules that the Wunderlich children can stay with parents
- Children stated opinion to judge in personal letters
DARMSTADT/VIENNA (2 July 2019) – Today, a court in Darmstadt, Germany handed down its ruling concerning the Wunderlich family and their wish to homeschool their children. The court ruled that the children will remain in the custody of their parents.
Only weeks after the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the family in January, the same German family judge, who was also involved in the removal of the children in 2013, initiated these new hearings. He was later substituted by another judge on grounds of bias. Two weeks ago, the two younger children and the parents were heard at the court regarding the children’s school attendance.
The right of parents to direct the education of their children is a fundamental right, protected in international law. We are pleased to see that the German court respected this right and acknowledged that the Wunderlich children are doing well.
“The right of parents to direct the education of their children is a fundamental right, protected in international law. We are pleased to see that the German court respected this right and acknowledged that the Wunderlich children are doing well. As we wait for referral to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, we hope that, there too, the rights of the Wunderlich family will be safeguarded,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International and lead counsel for the Wunderlich family at the European Court of Human Rights.
Children vocal about their own wellbeing
This week, a domestic court in Darmstadt ruled that the custody of the two youngest children, who are still minors, will remain with their parents. In recent statements, the children expressed their wish to be homeschooled. The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights also recognized that “the knowledge level of the children was not alarming and that the children were not being kept from school against their will.”
“I am not ready to attend a public school simply because German judges cannot imagine for me to be educated in a different way. I will not tolerate being forcefully taken and locked up,” wrote one of the children in a letter to the judge. A sibling added, “I just want to live and learn in peace with my family without the constant fear of being torn apart like in 2009 and in 2013. I went to a public school for a year and definitely did not enjoy it.”
On-going struggle for parental rights
The Wunderlich family’s struggle to have the German authorities respect their parental rights has been ongoing for a number of years. 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 in 2013 and forcefully removed the children from their parents. At the beginning of April, the Wunderlich family asked the Court to refer their case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. They now await a response from the highest level of the Court.