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 workers who had police troopers storm a jetliner on which a family was attempting to emigrate to India, to take custody of a young boy over his homeschooling, now have discussed allowing the foster family where he’s been staying to take him to Thailand, the boy’s father has told WND.
WND reported only weeks ago that the social workers responsible for removing Domenic Johannson from his parents had called for a court hearing to consider moving custody permanently away from the family and to the government.
Domenic, now 10 after his birthday just a few weeks ago, has been in the custody of social services and in foster homes in Sweden since the middle of 2009, when as a 7-year-old he was snatched from a jetliner he and his parents had boarded to move to India, his mother’s home country.
Michael Donnelly, director of international relations for HSLDA, told WND when the social services workers sought the court hearing, “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.”
In a communication addressed to WND today, Christer Johannson said the controversial case has decimated his family by piling tragedy upon tragedy. He spoke of how his own father and mother, Domenic’s grandparents, and an uncle had sought to meet with Domenic
“My mother and father then waited for the day to arrive, but the social
services called up, I believe, late the night before meeting, or the same morning
and said, ‘Domenic does not want to see you now,’ and they canceled
that meeting,” he told WND.
Later, they called again to set up a meeting.
“Domenic especially wanted to see his grandma … finally at the meeting, Domenic ran to my dad and my brother, only to hear that his grandmother and best friend had passed away that morning.”
He said Domenic’s last memory of his grandmother is when armed police officers came to “recapture” him last Thanksgiving after Christer had taken him home to see family members following a court-supervised visit.
For that visit, Christer spent weeks in jail.
The latest on the custody dispute, he said, is that social workers “wish to move the custody to the other family now, permanently.”
He said an attorney is reviewing that demand.
“Thank God, I can’t even read them [court documents] anymore,” he told WND.
“They want to have a hearing about this in the local court fast as well,” he continued, “Domenic told [his uncle] and my father, Rune, at the meeting, ‘They will take me to Thailand this winter.’
“The latest thing I heard from the social [workers] was, ‘We reject a meeting with you to discuss all the errors that have been made by us in the past. Instead, talk to the courts.’”
The father told WND apparently the discussion is to allow the foster family to take Domenic to Thailand, a trip that would involve required vaccinations to which he and his wife, Annie, have strong objections.
The issue also was raised before the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe at its annual human rights meeting.
WND has reported that several other cases in which 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.”
Social services workers since then have declined to respond to WND questions submitted via email.