TUESDAY, 28 June 2010, Strasbourg, France
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights Friday asking it to hear the case of a 7-year-old boy seized by Swedish authorities because his parents homeschool.
“Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their children’s education without government interference,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who is based in Europe. “A government trying to create a cookie-cutter child in its own image should not be allowed to violate this basic and fundamental human right.
"The refusal of Swedish authorities to respect that right has left us no choice but to take this case to the European Court of Human Rights.”
Swedish authorities forcibly removed Dominic Johansson from his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, in June 2009 after the family had boarded a plane to move to Annie’s home country of India. The officials did not have a warrant nor have they charged the Johanssons with any crime. The officials, say ADF lawyers, seized the child because they believe homeschooling is inappropriate and insist the government should raise Dominic instead.
Social services authorities have placed Dominic in foster care and a government school. Christer and Annie are only allowed to visit their son for one hour every five weeks.
“We are gravely concerned about this case as it represents what can happen to other home-schooling families," explained HSLDA lawyer Mike Donnelly, one of nearly 1700 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “In response to our inquiries, Swedish authorities have cited the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child to explain and defend their actions. If the U.S. were to ever ratify this treaty, as the White House and some members of Congress have expressed a desire to do, then this sort of thing could occur here.”
ADF and HSLDA attorneys decided to file Johansson v. Sweden with the ECHR when the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden refused to review a lower court’s December 2009 ruling in Johansson v. Gotland Social Services that found that the government was within its rights to seize the child.
The lower court cited the fact that Dominic had not been vaccinated as a reason to remove him permanently from his parents and also repeated the charges that homeschoolers do not perform well academically and are not well socialized. HSLDA and ADF said that these latter charges are “provably false.”