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April 16, 2013

Desperate Homeschooling Parents Plead for Help—Hope Court Will Hear Case

Family’s Attorney Says: “Let Them Know the World is Watching.”


Domenic Johansson has been separated from his family for years.

How to Help

Will you join us in contacting the Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) and asking the justices to intervene on behalf Annie and Christer Johansson? Contact information and a sample message are below.

Contact information for the Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen):

Email:
hogsta.domstolen@dom.se

Mailing address:
Högsta domstolen
Box 2066
103 12 Stockholm
SWEDEN

A 1-oz letter from the US will cost $1.10 through the Postal Service

Fax:
From outside Sweden: +46 8 561 666 86

If you fax from the U.S., you will need to replace the + sign with “011” and then dial 46 8 561 666 86

From inside Sweden: 08-561 666 86

Sample Message

Re: Case Number 298-13, Annie and Christer Johansson

Mr. President and Justices of the Supreme Court,

I am writing today to urge you to take up the case of the Johansson family, case number 298-13. This is an extremely important case involving the welfare of 11-year-old Domenic Johansson who was taken from his parents in June 2009. The family has not seen their child in years. This sounds so inhuman, and we implore you in the interests of justice and humanity, please take up Christer and Annie Johansson's case and return their child to them.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Sincerely,

[Your name and country]

Annie and Christer Johansson’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Sweden may be their last hope to see their son again. They haven’t seen him in nearly three years.

The family was on board Turkish Air Flight 990 on June 25, 2009 when their 7-year-old son Domenic was snatched from them by armed Swedish police. The police were ordered to seize the boy based on the fact that he had been homeschooled, even though school had already ended for the year. The family was moving permanently to India, Annie’s home country.

In December 2012, a Swedish appeals court overturned a lower court ruling in favor of the parents and ordered the guardianship of Domenic transferred to an appointed third party. The ruling effectively terminated Annie and Christer’s parental rights over Domenic, who has now been in a foster home for nearly four years. The strain of the forced separation is inflicting unbearable pain and pressure on the family who still live on the same island just miles from where their son lives—yet they are not permitted to have any contact with him whatsoever.

Plead with the Court

HSLDA is asking homeschooling and concerned parents from all over the world to join in a letter-writing campaign to plead with the Swedish Supreme Court to take the case and to return Domenic to his parents.

Ruby Harrold-Claesson, the attorney for the family, told HSLDA that it is important that the Swedish government know that they are being watched.

“Let them know the world is watching,” Harrold-Claesson told HSLDA. “I think that it is positive that the Justices at the Supreme Court should know that the world is watching them. Shower them with emails, inundate their fax with letters. Everything—email or fax—that is sent to the court has to be registered and made available for public scrutiny.”

Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s director for international affairs, has been working with the family since 2009 and says this may be their last hope.

“If the Swedish Supreme Court does not intervene it is likely they will never see their son again. It is like a death sentence, except that Domenic is alive and just a few miles away from his mother. The strain on her is becoming unbearable. She is having increasingly frequent physical and mental breakdowns. I fear for her life,” Donnelly said.

“Brutal” Case

Michael Farris, HSLDA’s chairman and an international human rights attorney, says the case is among the most brutal he has ever seen.

“Sweden’s actions in this case are inexplicable,” said Farris. “The taking of this child for homeschooling and while the family was moving out of the country is an egregious violation of basic human rights and international law standards. Sweden is a party to numerous treaties that require them to respect the rights of parents to make education decisions and to leave the country if they choose. This is a dangerous precedent if permitted to stand.”

HSLDA’s President J. Michael Smith said that there is no known reason for Sweden’s behavior in the case.

“Based on the review of available documentation of this case, we don’t know of anything that would justify either the long-term separation of the family or the termination of their parental rights. There is no doubt that this family needs help,” he said.

Ruby Harrold-Claesson is a noted international human rights attorney who has dedicated her life to fighting what she describes as the brutal Swedish social services system.

“These are Good Parents”

“The evidence was overwhelming in favor of the Johanssons, and that is why the district court found in their favor,” she said. “These are good parents who were taking good care of their son. This is an unbelievable case of overreaching on the part of Gotland’s politicians. It is despicable that the Swedish courts—with the exception of the district court—have been willing to back up the social workers in this case.”

Harrold-Claesson said that the system contains perverse financial incentives for foster parents and social authorities which have resulted in Sweden having among the highest rate of child removals in Europe. Harrold-Claesson heads the Nordic Committee for Human Rights and together with 31 law professionals, she has submitted a report to the Council of Europe and the United Nations Child Committee asking for an investigation into these human rights abuses.

“Sweden has a horrible system. 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. Even the Swedish so-called justice system is stacked against the families, since they can’t even choose their own lawyer but have to accept one who is paid by the state and has no incentive whatsoever to fight aggressively on their behalf. It is absolute madness and injustice,” she said.

HSLDA hopes a letter-writing campaign will get the court’s attention and help them distinguish this case from the thousands they receive. A letter-writing campaign will encourage the court to pay closer attention to this case. Courts are busy, and so often cases like this to the Supreme Court are dismissed without a thorough evaluation.

HSLDA’s involvement in the case has involved financial and emotional support to the beleaguered mother and father. We have received numerous calls and emails from those concerned about the family. Supporters have set up a Facebook page. HSLDA encourages interested members to pray and fast for the family and participate in these other forms of support for the family. In addition to the letter-writing campaign, donations can be made to the Homeschool Freedom Fund to help the family and others like them. HSLDA requests that emails, letters, and faxes be sent to the court asking that the court take up the case of the Johanssons. You may use the sample letter in the sidebar on this page, or craft one in your own words.

 More Information

Please visit our Johansson resource page for additional information on this case.