Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Annie and Domenic Johansson
Social services workers who had police snatch a 7-year-old boy from his parents while they were aboard a jetliner preparing to move to the mother’s home country of India because he was being homeschooled have called for a court hearing where they apparently will seek to terminate the parents’ rights completely.
Christer Johannson told WND by email this week that he got a letter from the court explaining social workers wished “to move custody of Domenic to the foster family.”
Domenic, now 9, has been in the custody of social services, and in foster homes, in Sweden ever since 2009 when he was snatched from a jetliner he and his parents had boarded in order to move to India.
Michael Donnelly, director of international relations for the HSLDA, told WND, “The only way I can think of describing the way the Swedish social and judicial systems have treated the Johansson family is barbaric – the harm done to them is beyond comprehension.
“Their most basic of human rights have been violated and no civilized country should permit this kind of treatment,” he continued. “If the Swedish judicial system permits the termination of the Johansson’s parental rights because of homeschooling, missed vaccinations and a few cavities it will have become the darkest of regimes for families in Western Europe.”
Christer and Domenic Johansson
That would be an accomplishment, as homeschoolers who fled persecution in Germany already have been granted asylum in the United States because of that persecution.
“It is deplorable that the European Court of Human Rights has not acted on the petitions before it in this case and that other governments and human rights organizations have not called on Swedish authorities to investigate and correct this gross miscarriage of justice,” said Donnelly.
“We are asking our members and friends to beg with Swedish authorities for this family’s immediate reunification. The lives of this child and his parents depend on it.”
“It is an outrage that a ‘free’ country would rip apart this family simply because they do not conform with the government’s mold,” the petition states. “The egregious human rights violation needs to be rectified IMMEDIATELY. The social workers who made this decision ought to be dismissed and Domenic restored to his parents with an official apology.”
“Abducting Domenic and imprisoning him from the loving family he has known all his life is not helping him. Rather, it has most likely caused irreparable harm to him in all aspects of his being, the results of which he will have to suffer with for the rest of his life,” wrote Linda Long as she signed the petition.
Others on the site accused the government of child abuse and described the situation as an outrage.
The issue also has been raised before the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe at its annual human rights meeting.
WND has reported that several other cases where children were taken by authorities in Sweden were resolved over recent months when parents had a private detective literally abduct their own children from social services and reunite the families in another country.
That work drew 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 Johansson case. In fact, 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.
WND also reported that 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.
Harrold-Claeson said it was strange that social service agents don’t realize that their interventions in families by removing the children and placing them in foster homes among total strangers are more traumatizing than the eventual problems of the parents.
She also 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.
Gustaf Hofstedt, president of the local social services board in Gotland, Sweden, where the family lives, 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.”