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Dec 11

Johansson Family Deprived of Justice on Human Rights Day

Domenic as a young child, with his mother, Annie, who has been declared by the Gotland District Court to be a normal, loving and competent parent.

An appeals court has handed down a verdict that Domenic Johansson will not be returned to his parents, following a separation of three and a half years.

The ruling overturns the convincing victory in the Gotland District Court from June this year, which found that there were no grounds for terminating Christer and Annie Johansson’s parental rights.

Ironically, the decision was rendered yesterday, the day that is celebrated throughout the world as Human Rights Day 2012.

“A New Kind of Injustice”

The Johansson parents were vindicated in June when the Gotland District gave them full parental rights. The verdict was issued on the basis of unanimous and extensive testimony from those who had first-hand experience with Christer and Annie Johansson. In establishing that the Johansson parents are capable, loving and normal, the testimonies demonstrated that the Swedish social services do not have a case for continuing to divide the family. The court responded to this evidence by acknowledging that the parents had been properly caring for Domenic and that their parental rights would not be terminated.

Following the ruling, Christer Johansson spoke with Christian Voice researcher, Robin Phillips, declaring that it was no longer a question of if but when. However, as the Johansson’s and their extended family prepared to welcome Domenic back, Swedish social services appealed to the Svea Court of Appeal, asking them to overturn the district court’s ruling. Moreover, they kept Domenic during the period of the appeal.

Domenic has now been separated from his parents for three and a half years

During the time of the appeal social services brought forward evidence from an “expert” child psychiatrist who stated that it would be detrimental to Domenic’s “mental health and well-being” to have him returned to the parents.

Christer commented, “We have not felt pain like this ever. I am taking care of Annie as she’s still in shock. I thought we could start to celebrate something soon, but after this ‘news’ it’s impossible to even think about smiling. To get news like this on the International Human Right’s Day is…a new kind of injustice for sure.”

Meanwhile, this sad drama is now attracting international attention. The Facebook group ‘Return Domenic Johansson to His Parents!’ now has an astonishing 5,141 members while Christians throughout the world are preparing for a renewed letter writing campaign (details will be forthcoming.)

The Next Step

The next step is that the Johansson’s lawyer plans to appeal to the highest court in Sweden. If that fails, they plan to appeal again to the European Court of Human Rights, which earlier refused the case based on the decision of a judge from Germany (another country ruled by a government that ruthlessly persecutes homeschoolers in violation of the most fundamental international human rights conventions). The family are being assisted by the Alliance Defence Fund, who have put together an application that makes the following points:

  • “…the main area of contention between the Respondent and the Johansson’s was that Domenic was being home educated. The family had been doing so in large part because of their desire to pursue missionary work in India and to be closer to the mother’s family [as Annie is a citizen of India]. The Johansson’s had sought the textbooks from their local school principal because it was their desire that even while in India Domenic be brought up learning both the Indian and the Swedish curriculum. The end result was that Domenic was dramatically abducted by state social services while on the airplane en route to their new life in India helping orphaned children.
  • This case personifies an abuse of the dominant majority position. Social services intervened into the private family life of the Johansson’s because they disagreed with the family’s belief system making value judgments which are not permissible under Convention law. Rather than remaining neutral in its functions, the State actively discriminated against the family for holding beliefs which differed from the majority viewpoint. The value judgments made against the Johansson’s by social services, lacking in any serious investigation or provable fact, were then used to destroy the applicant family. These same judgements, which continue to exist without fact or serious evidence, persist in keeping the family separated.
  • [The] desire to permanently extinguish parental rights, even with all obstacles to reunification being removed, became very apparent when Gotland Social Services motioned the distinct court to transfer full custody to an extraneous legal guardian. The court refused to issue an interim decision and ruled on 09 December 2011, that Social Services did not have grounds to take such extreme measures. Of note during this hearing is that this was the first time in the more than two and a half years since Domenic was taken into care that the family was allowed to use a lawyer of their own choosing.
  • The State cannot take such radical methods as separating families simply for the act of home education or because it does not like the religious philosophies of the family; particularly where the weight of the evidence lacks grounds to substantiate such severs measures as to take Domenic into custody and disallow him his right guaranteed in Protocol 4, Article 2 [Freedom of Movement], to travel to India to be with his parents and extended family there. Such a deprivation hinders the evolving capacities of the child and is to the detriment of the best interests of the child standard set in international law.

READ: Psalm 9:8.

PRAY: Christmas is a time when we enjoy being with family and friends. It is a time when we are surrounded by those we love, sharing in the warmth and peace made possible by the Christ child. But this Christmas Domenic will not be experiencing warmth and peace, because of the cold injustice of a system that has removed him from his loving family and refuses to let him return home. A year ago we waged our “No Christmas for Domenic” campaign to draw attention to this sad reality, and the horrific travesty of justice behind it. Now as we prepare to celebrate another Christmas, the situation remains the same. Pray that this will be Domenic’s last Christmas away from his family. Ask that the Johansson’s legal team would be given wisdom as they prepare to approach the highest court in Sweden.

WRITE: to the Swedish Ambassador: Her Excellency Nicola Clase, 27 Portland Place, London, W1B 1QA (that is her official residence) or at the Swedish Embassy in London, 11 Montagu Place, London, W1H 2AL

Email: [email protected]  She also has a blog: http://blog.swedenabroad.se/uk/

If you live outside the UK , merely put your own capital city in place of London and address your email to ‘The Swedish Ambassador’ and start ‘Your Excellency’.  For example:

[email protected] or [email protected]

JOIN: the Facebook group ‘Return Domenic Johansson to His Parents!’ at http://tinyurl.com/ayr5chl.

 

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