Annie and Dominic Johansson
A judge in Sweden’s administrative court has ruled that social workers will continue to have custody of a boy who was seized by police from a jetliner as he and his parents were preparing to move to India, according to a new report.
The decision by Judge Peter Freudenthal was reported by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which along with international attorneys working with the Alliance Defense Fund already have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights for help reuniting the family.
Dominic Johannson was seized from his parents June 25, 2009, because he was being homeschooled, had a few untreated cavities in his teeth and had not been given the latest vaccinations scheduled by the government.
Since then, he’s been allowed a brief visit with his parents, sometimes five weeks apart, and at other times a brief – monitored – telephone call.
According to Michael Donnelly, the director of international relations for HSLDA, the legal opinion regarding the family’s desire to be reunited “is an object lesson for anyone who is concerned about what can happen when the state becomes all powerful and unnecessarily invades the sphere of the family.”
He said the legal conclusions were “revolting” and did nothing except drive the child’s “forced alienation from his parents.”
He said the Swedish opinions cite “no evidence” that would support a continued state custody for Dominic.
“This case is so egregious that the only explanation for the decision is that judges and social services authorities are simply trying to cover their tracks because they know they have grossly violated the basic human rights of this family,” Donnelly said.
A thriving Dominic is shown in a passport photograph, left, just before he was taken into custody by Swedish social-services agents. The right photo, obtained by the Dominic Johansson website, shows a “not-so-thriving Dominic” some months after he was forcibly placed in the Swedish foster-care system.
Ruby Harrold-Claesson, president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights, briefly worked on behalf of the parents, Christer and Annie, before the local court ordered her off the case.
She told HSLDA, “I have never in 20 years of practice seen a case more badly handled. This family has been so traumatized that they may never recover.”
She said an accurate characterization would be that the Swedish government “has grossly violated this family’s human rights, both under Swedish law and under the European Convention of Human Rights.”
“The social services took this poor little boy and prevented him from leaving with his parents. He is being held a hostage – essentially kidnapped by the Swedish government. It is an absolute embarrassment for Sweden and for every person involved in this case,” she said.
Freudenthal’s decision affirmed the decision of Swedish social services workers, who engineered the child’s abduction and built the case against the parents to keep control of Dominic.
According to the HSLDA report, “Friends, family, and a university professor of psychology testified that the Johanssons are more than capable of parenting Dominic and caring for him. Despite this testimony, and the willingness of the family to do whatever the state wants them to do, Judge Freudenthal decided to go along with the assertions of the social workers that Dominic was better off in the care of the state.”
Roger Kiska, counsel in Europe for the ADF, said it appears simply to be an issue of state control over a family.
“The opinions in the Johansson case reflect an underlying attempt by the Swedish state to conform Dominic to the bureaucrats’ image of a child, rather than respecting the right of the family and the parents, and even the right of the child to be with his family,” he said in the HSLDA report.
“This tragic case reflects what happens when a socialist bureaucracy is bent upon turning out cookie-cutter children, rather than respecting the individual differences of individuals and families. Even if you believe every single allegation that the social services authorities have made, as outlined by Judge Freudenthal, the evidence falls far short of the dramatic intervention they brought upon this family and the continuing harm perpetrated by this continued separation.”
The judges’ conclusion noted that social workers said Dominic’s education was “delayed” and he liked to “play with younger children” as a basis for his conclusions.
According to HSLDA, “What this really means, of course, is that the social workers believe that Dominic should not be raised by his parents simply because the state has a different opinion of how children should be raised.”
Warned the organization’s report, “American homeschoolers can view this abuse of authority as a foreshadowing of the kinds of issues we would face if the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child were to be implemented in the United States. There are already numerous cases every year of state bureaucrats attempting to, and, in some cases with the cooperation of American judges, substituting their own decisions over that of competent parents. These cases often result in the involuntary separation of families which result in great trauma to both the children and their parents.”
WND reported just a day earlier that the situation in Sweden is deteriorating significantly for families who wish to teach their own children.
The HSLDA reported that a family assigned the pseudonym “Pettersson” had fled the nation. For nine months members have been traveling in other nations to avoid the possible penalties for homeschooling should they return, and now they have announced they are selling their home and abandoning Sweden permanently.
“We decided to leave Sweden and are currently trying to sell our house and move our stuff out of the country,” the mother, Lynn, told the homeschooling organization.
According to a website that supports the Johansson family, the head of Sweden’s Department of Children and Education, Lena Celion, wrote that it was “for the boy’s sake” that agents forcibly and without a warrant took him from his family, placed him with a foster family and enrolled him in a government school.
Gustaf Hofstedt, president of the local social-services board, has told WND by telephone from Sweden that there is more to the dispute than homeschooling, but he refused to explain.
“I understand the public debate has been that is a case that is only concerning the fact of homeschooling,” he told WND. “But that is not the case.”
Asked to explain, he said, “I can’t answer that question because of secrecy.”