Christer and Domenic Johansson
It’s not quite real-life “Spy Kids” even though the adventure certainly is there.
It seems a Polish private investigator, dubbed “Rambo” by fans, has found a solution to the problems created when social services workers in the Nordic countries take custody of children against the wishes of family members: Simply “kidnap” the kids and give them back to the parents.
It’s happened at least twice in Norway and is a stunning development for families there and in countries like Sweden, where social services workers, as WND has reported, have virtually absolute control over children once they are taken into government custody.
In June, private detective Krzysztof Rutkowski was credited with “freeing” a 9-year-old girl from her “Norwegian prison” – the home of foster parents assigned by the government – and returning her to her parents, who fled Norway to live in Poland.
Then, just days ago, the same detective was reported to have taken a 13-year-old boy from social services custody and returned him to his mother. The family reunion, again, was reported to be in Poland, according to IceNews.
The work has drawn the qualified praise of Ruby Harrold-Claeson, president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights, which was founded in Copenhagen in 1996. The group aims to “increase the rights and freedoms of private individuals and their families and strengthen respect for basic human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Nordic countries.”
Harrold-Claeson has been involved in some of the most notorious child-custody cases, including the case of Domenic Johansson in Sweden. Her involvement so alarmed local judicial officials that they ordered the Johansson family to be represented by an attorney of the court’s choosing instead of Harrold-Claeson.
That case is pending before the European Court of Human Rights, where the Home School Legal Defense Association and the Alliance Defense Fund, an international civil and religious rights organization, are arguing Domenic needs to be returned to his parents.
As WND reported, the father, Christer Johansson, was jailed for two months for taking Domenic home from court-ordered foster care for a visit last Thanksgiving.
The case developed in mid-2009 when social services and police forcibly took custody of Domenic, then 7, because they worried he was homeschooled. The local courts later denied the parents the legal representation they sought from Harrold-Claeson, demanding instead they be represented by a government-approved attorney. The courts ultimately ruled the state must keep custody of Domenic.
According to published reports, the private detective struck first in June. The Aftenposten reported that Vestfold police were investigating a case in which a minor was “illegally taken from their parents or others who care for them, in this case, child welfare.”
The report said social services took custody of the child over the objections of the parents, reportedly over an issue of depression. The reports said the 9-year-old climbed out a window at a foster care home and down a rope in the night and was met by the private detective, who then ferried her to her parents – who already had made the move to Poland.
The names of the family members were not released. The family told Radio Szczecin that authorities had come to the girl’s school and questioned her then told the parents they were taking custody.
The second case was reported just days ago, again in Norwegian media. Then, Rutkowski reportedly reunited a 13-year-old boy with his mother in a similar operation.
According to IceNews, the detective “met the boy at a gym before whisking him away to Poland in a convory of unmarked cars.”
The boy’s attorney said, according to the report, “The boy has always said he wants to go home to his mother. He had been clear from day one. I have asked him to get a spokesperson, but he has not been given one and one should have been present when the emergency decision [over custody] was considered by the regional appeals board.”
Harrold-Claeson called the strategy that reunited the 9-year-old with her parents “an excellent piece of work.”
“Polish radio, TV and newspapers have publicized the child’s rescue and expressed severe criticism against Norway. … Children who are taken hostages by the Nordic welfare states must be rescued, because there is no justice in the system,” she said.
“According to the law, the parents are entitled to court hearings in order to obtain the release of their children, but once the system gets its claws into a child, they never let go. I have helped many of my clients in their desperate but futile battle to regain custody of their children,” said Harrold-Claeson.
“Some end up in psychiatric institutions and some have died of heart attacks because the system has destroyed their lives. To date, I have saved 53 children from imminent destruction by the social services. Most of the families in question have taken their children and fled from Sweden,” she said.
Harrold-Claeson charged that the social services system is designed in Nordic countries, especially in Sweden, to provide a healthy income to foster care families..
“These foster homes are often of poor quality, and their prime aim is to earn money off the foster children,” she said,” noting “families whose children are taken into public care are often lone parents, unemployed and/or on welfare.”
She told the HSLDA that she hopes word of the rescues reaches parents so they are aware of “the atrocities that are being committed against children and their families in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and to a lesser extent, Finland.”
The cases “must be brought to the knowledge of the world at large,” she said.
Michael P. Donnelly, director of international relations at the HSLDA, called Harrold-Claeson.”a courageous attorney who has taken on the Swedish social service system and protected children from being kidnapped from the state.”
Harrold-Claeson told WND the case of the 9-year-old came about because her parents had quarreled and social services “intervened to prevent the child from feeling upset.”
“Strangely enough, the agents of the CPS don’t realize that their interventions in families by removing the children and placing them in foster homes among total strangers are more traumatizing that the eventual problems of the parents,” she said.
But she said Swedish authorities believe “children are the property of the state to be bought and sold as commodities. Taking children into care and placing them in foster homes is an … industry in which children’s and the parents and relatives and their health – both physical and mental – is destroyed beyond repair.”
She told WND that the state “has decided to usurp the powers of the parents and replace parental authority over children by delivering them into the hands of the civil servants, who per definition should be servants, not masters.”
She called on Americans to condemn such practices and watch their own backs, since she’s seen similar practices developing in the U.S.
Annie and Domenic Johansson
Donnelly previously expressed alarm at the treatment in Sweden of the Johansson family.
“The inhumanity of Swedish authorities in retaining Domenic Johansson in foster care with virtually no visitation from his parents remains a grave concern for our organization,” he said. “The failure by provincial and national authorities to investigate and rectify a scandalous abuse of power on the part of Gotland municipal authorities and social workers makes Sweden look more like a former Soviet totalitarian state than a Western free and democratic one.”
The government took custody of Domenic when police officers stormed a jetliner which the family had boarded en route to a move to India, the home country of Domenic’s mother, Annie Johansson, in 2009.
The case also is being followed by a blog called FriendsofDomenic.
Gustaf Hofstedt, president of the local social services board in Gotland, earlier 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.”
Research and interviews contributed by WND intern Taylor Hudson.