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Wunderlich
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Top European court to rule on German homeschooling case

Summary

  • European Court of Human Rights to decide on Wunderlich v. Germany
  • 10 January ruling to consider whether German homeschooling ban compatible with parental rights

STRASBOURG (7 January 2019) – On 10 January, the European Court of Human Rights will announce its judgment in the case of Wunderlich v. Germany. The ruling could have wide implications for parental rights across Europe.

Children deserve the loving care and protection of their parents. It is a serious thing for a state to interfere with the parent-child bond.

“Children deserve the loving care and protection of their parents. It is a serious thing for a state to interfere with the parent-child bond. It should do so only where there is evidence demonstrating a real risk of serious harm. Petra and Dirk Wunderlich simply exercised their parental right to raise their children in line with their philosophical and religious convictions – something they thought they could do better in the home environment. The right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is a fundamental right protected in all of the major human rights treaties. Germany has signed up to these treaties and yet continues to ignore its obligations with devastating consequences,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International and lead counsel for the Wunderlichs.

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 remains unclear as Germany remains 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. The Court is set to announce its ruling this week.

Violation of right to family life

“I sincerely hope the European Court of Human Rights will reaffirm that the state has no right to abduct children from their family just because they are being homeschooled. The authorities broke into our home and took the children without warning. We chose to educate our children at home because we believe this to be the best environment for them to learn and thrive,” said Dirk Wunderlich, the father of the children.

“Children are born to parents, not governments and Germany’s homeschooling policy is completely out of step with other democracies that respect home education as part of a free and pluralistic society. Human Rights experts at the UN and other scholars worldwide have found that home education is a natural, fundamental and protected human right. The court must hold Germany accountable to respect this fundamental right,” 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.

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