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A legal team that lost a case at the Swedish Supreme Court over custody of a boy taken from his parents because he was being homeschooled says the behavior of that nation’s judiciary is “concerning.”
The comment came from Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been fighting on behalf of Christer and Annie Johansson, and their son Domenic.
“It is very concerning that the Swedish court system has slammed the door on the Johanssons, but we will not give up,” said Farris. “We are evaluating legal measures, but the immediate need is to find a way to reunite this family as soon as possible. We are exploring all options on how this could happen.”
The nation’s Supreme Court recently refused to review a lower court’s decision that the state would forcibly terminate Christer and Annie’s parental rights to Domenic, who was abducted by armed officers from the family when he was 7.
The Swedish Supreme Court records in the case were reviewed by Johansson family attorney Ruby Harrold-Claesson, who also is president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights.
They reveal several factors, including that there was an extraordinary outpouring of global support for the family that was directed to the court.
Documents show that thousands from all over the world sent emails and other messages to the Swedish Supreme Court on behalf of Annie and Christer Johansson, she found.
“I’m not aware of any cases that have resulted in this much contact to the court ever,” she said. “There are strong legal and ethical reasons why the Supreme Court should hear this case. It’s unconscionable that they would stick their heads in the sand and ignore the fact that one of the judges in the appeals court was chief justice in the county administrative court that decided that Domenic should be taken into – and be kept in – state custody.”
|Christer and Domenic Johansson|
She explained that the judge in question already had been involved in the case before being asked to review it on appeals.
“He was part of a court that allowed the state municipality to introduce new evidence [during earlier hearings] but did not allow the Johanssons to do the same,” she said. “This case shows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, it seems that only the government gets due process in Sweden – not individual citizens.”
The HSLDA reports there have been nearly a dozen court hearings on the case over the past several years. The European Court of Human Rights denied their petitions and Harrold-Claesson said officials there used a pretext for dismissing the family.
“We find it very strange that of the 49 judges in the European Court, it was a German judge, in a one-judge-decision, who declared the Johanssons’ application inadmissible,” she said. And she noted another problem.
“There is a Swedish court administrator who has been called a ‘gatekeeper’,” explained Harrold-Claesson. “It appears that this person does their best to makes sure that cases that could embarrass Sweden don’t get much traction. Justice should be objective and not discriminate on the basis of nationality, but the ECHR has not been good to my clients. The actions of the Swedish courts are indefensible – they are just rubber-stamping what the bureaucrats have done. The lack of justice in this case is deplorable. The ECHR should be a viable last resort for people whose human rights have been violated, but it has turned a blind eye to the violations committed against this family.”
The justices of the Supreme Court of Sweden delivered a "perfunctory order" rejecting the family's appeal and in effect, delivering its "death sentence," several weeks ago.
HSLDA has been working with the a team from the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the family.
WND has reported on the case from its beginning, when Domenic was seized by armed Swedish police officers operating on the orders of social services agencies from on board a Turkish Airlines flight June 25, 2009, because he was being homeschooled.
He was 7 at the time.
During the first months following his seizure, the parents were only permitted to visit Domenic once every two weeks. The visits soon became every five weeks, and in 2010, all visitations were cut off, HSLDA said. The parents haven't seen their son in three years now.
It was last June when a Swedish district court said the parental rights would not be terminated. In a 23-page opinion, the court said it could not ignore the unanimous and extensive testimony of firsthand accounts of friends, family and others that Domenic Johansson was being properly cared for by his parents prior to Swedish authorities seizing him in 2009.
But then the courts changed position.
The attorney said the Swedish system is tilted so that social workers and foster care professionals gain financially when children are removed from their homes.
"They take children to feed a bureaucratic machine of foster homes based on subsidies. They impose their will on vulnerable families who don't have the resources to fight back, and most lawyers don't dare to challenge the system for fear of their career," she said.