Johansson, Sweden: Judges blow off separated family’s plea for justice

Christer and Domenic Johansson

Johansson, Sweden: Judges blow off

separated family’s plea for justice

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights for more than six months have ignored a separated Swedish family’s plea for justice and reunification, and advocates for Christer and Annie Johansson say now it’s time for the citizens of the world to demand action.

“It is quite concerning that this court has not responded to the pleadings filed – it has been rumored that there may be a court official who is hostile to anti-Sweden applications,” said Michael Donnelly of the Home School Legal Defense Association, which is working on the case.

“Our hope is that anumberof letters inquiring about the case from the public will get the needed attention on the case,” he said.

“You’ve Decided to Homeschool, Now What?”

His organization is working with the Alliance Defense Fund on an appeal to the court.

The case developed in mid-2009 when social services and police forcibly took custody of their son, Domenic, then 7, over government concerns he was being homeschooled. The local courts later denied the parents the legal representation they sought, demanding instead they be represented by a government-approved attorney. The courts ultimately ruled the state must keep custody of Domenic.

Ruby Harrold-Claesson, the president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights, had been working on the family’s case but was ordered off by the court in favor of a locally appointed representative the family opposed. However, she has kept up on the case.

“I am absolutely astonished that they haven’t replied to any of the applications that [ADF attorney] Roger [Kiska] filed for Christer and family and sent him a case [number]. They haven’t replied to my fax letter of September 29, in which I inquired about the application,” she said in a statement to the HSLDA.

Donnelly noted that the ECHR case is separate from the “increasingly tragic events” surrounding the family.

But he said the case at the level of the regional court could be used to send a message about family rights.

“A judgment from the ECHR could order Sweden to pay damages and could be taken to European institutions such as the Council of Ministers to seek enforcement,” he said. “The sad truth is that there is noreparationthat could ever make up forthe damagedone to this family by Swedish authorities. Domenic and his parents continue to live a nightmare and will be scarred by this experience for life. It is the kind of experience that is difficult to ever recover from.”

He continued, “Mr. Johansson has told me that he hopes his case may show the world what kinds of things can happen in Sweden, a country that, he suggests, is looked to by too many as a role model. His suffering is very deep however as he is held without bail waiting the outcome of his trial. Please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers and take action to encourage authorities involved in the case to take action that will help this family overcome these heartbreaking difficulties.”

The “nightmare” to which Donnelly referred was the continuing demands by government officials in Sweden to keep the parents and son apart.

It was just weeks ago that authorities jailed the father and ordered him to remain behind bars for taking his son hojme, following a state-supervised “visit,” to see other members of his family.

Reports have confirmed that authorities have ordered unspecified psychological studies or evaluations for Christer, pending his trial on charges of interfering with the state custody of his son.

Details have remained sketchy about the local court hearing, held justbeforeChristmas, in the Gotland, Sweden, case. But a Swedish broadcast station website reported that Johansson is accused of kidnapping or unlawful detention for the Thanksgiving week incident in which he took his son, now 9, with him following a social services-supervised visit.

The government took custody of Domenic in mid-2009 when police officers stormed a jetliner which the family had boarded en route to a move to India, the home country for Domenic’s mother, Annie Johansson.

The HSLDA said now is the time for people to become involved in protecting the family’s rights.

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