The highest court in Sweden has refused even to consider allowing parents to see their now-14-year-old son, who essentially was “state-napped” by social-service workers at age 7 merely because he was homeschooled.
Word of the decision comes from the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been working with other groups including the Alliance Defending Freedom and lawyer Ruby Harrold-Claesson, of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights, on the case involving Domenic Johansson.
He was taken by force from a jetliner on which he and his parents were planning to move from Sweden to his mother’s native India back when he was seven. The initial allegations were homeschooling, which was legal in Sweden at the time, although officials later added claims that his vaccinations were not up to date, and he needed fillings in his teeth.
WND reported only days ago that the family was asking the nation’s Supreme Court to review what was described as a “vicious” attack on the family by government officials.
Christer and Annie Johannson haven’t had custody of their son since he was taken by police and social workers, and they haven’t even been allowed to see him since 2010.
The HSLDA reported Harrold-Claesson said the court had refused to consider the appeal.
She said the court responded almost as soon as the appeal was filed, indicating the rejection of the appeal was already prepared.
“This decision really isn’t surprising,” she told HSLDA, “because the system has to protect its power over every individual, and its prestige when they commit the basest of crimes.”
Michael Donnelly, the international homeschooling organization’s director of global outreach, said, “This is more of the same cold, callous indifference we’ve seen in the past from the Swedish Supreme Court. This court had multiple opportunities to correct a gross injustice, and each time they have turned away.”
He continued, “The Swedish state has destroyed this family and, sadly, even if the court agreed to hear the case and overturn the decision – the harm has had been done is virtually irreparable.”
The parents still live on the island of Gottland, presuming their son lives within driving distance in the custody of the state, but never being allowed to see him.
Two months ago, Christer posted on Facebook that it was Domenic’s birthday: “We would love to congratulate him, but we just can’t, or to tell the truth, [we’re] not allowed to.”
Donnelly said the work will continue on behalf of the Johanssons.
“It is the right thing to do and in so doing we may help others. But the the cold, hard reality is that the Johansson family has, as Christer himself once said, been ‘broken into a million pieces.’ Our hearts should also be broken for this family and others who face similar injustice.”
Roger Kiska, the senior counsel for the ADF, shows the case reveals the “hardness” of European condemnation of homeschooling, which once was exemplified by Adolf Hitler, who was among the first to ban homeschooling and require student to be under government indoctrination during their formative years.
“Domenic should have been returned long ago but for the bureaucratic hardness of the Swedish Child Protection system,” he said. “The behavior of the Swedish officials in this case has been reprehensible, and the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has not engaged in this case is troubling.”
He said his organization will continue to call on the Swedish government to “correct this injustice.”
WND has reported on the case from its beginnings, and just a week ago reported that the family’s lawyers were arguing that “The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights recognizes the family as the fundamental group unit of society and entitled to protection of (and from) the state.”
HSLDA outlined the history of the case: Social workers enraged by homeschooling, which was legal in Sweden at the time, used police to abduct the little boy, and then added claims of issues with his vaccinations and teeth to the complaint. Then social workers, aided by the local courts, simply kept Domenic.
“Imagine – living just miles from your child but being prevented by government authorities from seeing him at all – for years,” HSLDA said. “This is the tragic story of the Johansson family, who were homeschooling in Sweden when they decided to move to India, Annie Johansson’s home country. The three of them were seated on a jetliner in June 2009 when, moments before takeoff, police and social workers boarded the plane and seized Domenic.”
After years of court fights, in December 2012, the courts transferred the custody rights for Domenic to the state, and the European Court of Human Rights has rejected appeals submitted to its officials.
A recent ruling from the international human rights body said, “The applicants had failed in their care of [Domenic], both physical and psychological.”
It claimed Domenic “had not been allowed to go to school” and was “isolated.”
But WND reported legal experts argued Swedish officials violated multiple human rights enshrined in international treaties to which the Swedish government is a party: the right of parents to direct the education of their children, family life, due process, travel and more.
“The seizure of the child without a valid court order, from a plane he was lawfully entitled to be on, the detention by the state in foster care with virtually zero contact with his family and finally the termination of parental rights is a clear violation of international human rights standards,” HSLDA founder and Chairman Michael Farris, who holds a master of law degree in public international law from the University of London, said earlier.
Swedish officials several times have declined to respond to WND questions.
Numerous experts and attorneys have described the jetliner incident as a brazen example of “state-napping.”
When one court decision during the course of the case was released in Sweden in favor of the parents, government officials simply kept Domenic in custody until they were able to get it reversed.
Dozens of families have already fled abroad, including Jonas Himmelstrand, the chief of the Swedish Homeschooling Association, ROHUS, who fled to Finland with his wife and children.