The fate of Domenic Johansson is still uncertain following a court hearing on 11 May. A new hearing has been scheduled for the end of the month due to Christer being unable to attend the one on 11 May.
A few weeks after the hearing a verdict will be issued determining whether Domenic is allowed to return to his parents.
Humanly speaking, it is unlikely that the hearing will change the status quo. Such meetings have been occurring every six months since Domenic was first snatched from his parents two years ago by the Swedish Social Services. So far each of these hearings have culminated in a negative verdict.
Once Domenic has been in state custody for three years, the review hearings will end and Domenic can be put up for adoption.
Neither of the parents have been convicted of any crime, nor has there been any evidence that they are poor parents. The court documents complain that the Johanssons were home schooling, yet they did so at a time when this was still legal in Sweden.
Gotland Social Services have accused the father, Christer Johansson of being a narcissist, though to date there has been no official diagnosis. They have also accused Mr Johansson of being overly concerned with health and human rights, as if this makes him an unfit father.
Court-Appointed Foster Mother Threatens To Break Law
Domenic’s foster mother has requested custody of Domenic and has allegedly said that she will make sure Domenic stays with her no matter what the courts eventually decide. Similarly, Domenic’s state-appointed ‘representative’, Eva Ernston, has said off the record that ‘Domenic is better off without his weird father.’
Ernston has also filed a ‘protection from abuse’ order against Christer, essentially stating that he must remain a certain distance away from Domenic in the future. However, given the fact that they live on a small island, this would leave Christer with little room for movement.
The trouble started on 25 June, 2009, when seven-year old Domenic Johansson was seated in a commercial airliner with his parents awaiting departure on a flight to India.
Though the family had received no prior warning, Swedish authorities boarded the plane just minutes before take-off, forcibly removing Domenic from his parents and placing him in foster care.
Domenic is a dual citizen of Sweden and India. The family were planning to move to India where Mrs Johansson’s family lives. Because Domenic reached school age shortly before the planned trip, Christer thought it would be best to homeschool his son during the interim. (They were not planning on homeschooling Domenic in India.)
When Mr Johansson got in touch with the Swedish Ministry of Education to inquire about home education, the Ministry told him to contact his local school principal in order to obtain the necessary curriculum. However, when Mr Johansson contacted the principal of the nearest public school, the principal refused to provide the materials, saying “You don’t have the right to educate your son and I will be taking this further.”
What the principal meant by “taking it further” was that the family would be reported to the social services. Mr Johansson didn’t know that at the time, but he did know that the Ministry of Education, Swedish law and Europe’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights all allowed them to homeschool. So he and Annie began educating Domenic.
Officials at the local school district were furious about this and called Mr Johansson before a hearing of the Child and Education Department. During the hearing Mr Johansson explained to the judge that the family was planning on relocating to India in six weeks to be with Annie’s family. It did not make sense to keep Domenic in the state school only to withdraw him shortly afterwards. The judge replied, “Ok, fine” and asked for the date of travel.
No court order was issued prohibiting the family from leaving the country. Domenic is a dual citizen of Sweden and India and had every right to accompany his parents on the move. Christer and Annie were completely shocked when the authorities boarded the airliner and forcibly removed their son. (This was during the summer holidays when school was not happening anyway.)
It seems clear that Gotland Social Services only motivation in the abduction was so they could force Domenic to attend a Swedish school.
After Domenic’s abduction, there followed an agonizing 18 months during which Social Services told Mr and Mrs Johansson that they could only have an access meeting with their son every five weeks if they pretended that they did not want him at home.
At this time the Social Services went on a character assassination campaign, looking for evidence against the parents. The only things they could find were incomplete vaccinations and a cavity in one of Domenic’s baby teeth. In neither of these instances were the parents in breach of the law. Moreover, the parents had already scheduled a dentist appointment for their son in India.
‘Kidnapping’ His Own Son
After 18 months, the Johanssons finally exhausted all the legal appeals available to them in the Swedish court system. They hired one of the best human rights lawyers in Europe, but the judge dismissed her from the case. Moreover, the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden rejected their final appeal on the grounds that by preventing the family moving to India, the court was protecting Domenic’s ‘right to education.’
Meanwhile, it became increasingly difficult for Christer and Annie to keep lying to their son.
Every time the visits occurred, Domenic would ask, “please let me come home.” And every time the parents were forced to try to pretend that they didn’t want Domenic back.
Christer knew what often happened to other Swedish children in foster care, and worried for his son’s safety. In Daniel Hammarberg’s shocking exposé of the Swedish social services, The Madhouse: A Critical Study of Swedish Society, Hammarberg gives alarming evidence that Swedish children who are taken away from their parents often suffer mental health problems as a result. Some even commit suicide. Christer began to worry what might happen to his son if Domenic continued to think that his parents were rejecting him.
This put the parents in an agonizing position. Should they continue to lie to their son and destroy his faith in the only two human beings in this world that truly love him? Or should they tell Domenic the truth – that they love him and want him back? After an agonizing time, Mr Johansson decided to tell his son the truth and suffer the consequences. Thus, he defied the social services by bringing Domenic home. The boy was able to spend two days with his family and learn the truth: that they loved him and wanted him home, that they had not rejected him and had been fighting for his freedom.
Two days later police descended upon the Johansson home and once again took Domenic into captivity in addition to arresting Mr Johansson on the charge of kidnapping his own son.
While in prison Mr Johansson was subject to psychological evaluations and deprived of adequate representation. However, the court-appointed psychologist cleared Mr Johansson of having any psychological problems and he was released in January this year. This has not prevented the social services from continuing to make unfounded claims about the mental health of both Mr and Mrs Johansson.
Charge of Abuse
“There must be more to this case,” many people have been saying. “The parents must be guilty of harming their son in some way or the social services would surely not have reacted like this.” In order to properly respond to objections such as these, Christian Voice has managed to obtain a translation of the transcript of the hearing that occurred before the Administrative Court of Appeal of Stockholm in 2009. The hearing was an important landmark in this case since the social services clearly identified the grounds of their concern.
In the transcript the court has identified certain emotional and psychological problems that Domenic allegedly suffers from, and they have blamed the parents for these problems. However, the only symptoms they cite are those which were observed in Domenic after he was abducted from his parents. This is hardly surprising, as one would expect a boy who was removed from his parents at seven to behave abnormally.
Court appointed ‘experts’ who have talked to people who have observed Domenic have said he is in great need of “stability.” Again, this is what we would expect from someone who has been removed from his loving parents. However, in the court documents Christian Voice obtained, the social workers have argued that Domenic’s need for stability is because he was deprived of security by his parents. It has not seemed to occur to them that perhaps the lack of stability may have resulted from their own interference and the stressful separation from his parents. The transcript reads:
“From the descriptions of school staff and foster parents it appears that Domenic has major difficulties in social interplay… Domenic has a distanceless way of relating and doesn’t understand his own feelings and can’t put names to them. … His connection pattern appears ambivalent. On top of that there’s indication of mental illness.
If this establishes anything, it is that Domenic is under enormous stress right now from being separated from his parents. These symptoms are a common feature in the youth under the care of the Swedish Social Services and are not necessarily the result of bad parenting on the part of the parents. However, when we read on we find the court giving a very different assessment:
“The assessment is that [Domenic] has been exposed to substantial lack in care and that he’s judged to be in need of routine, stability and a predictable treatment.”
There is absolutely no evidence to back up this assessment because social services never observed Domenic within his own home. All observation of him has been after the traumatic event of his removal. Nevertheless, the court’s conclusion was that these symptoms are the result of abuse from the parents and mental illness on the part of the mother:
“There is significant deficiencies in care, almost to the point of abuse, of Domenic under a long period…. The emotional care deficiency is considered to consist of Dominic not having taken part in day-care or schooling which has resulted in social isolation and unsatisfactory stimulation with lags in his development as a consequence. Furthermore the social welfare board feels that the deficiencies to a large extent have their roots in Christer Johansson’s mental and personal status and Annie Johansson’s mental illness.
European Court of Human Rights
The Alliance of Romanian Families (AFR) is now intervening in the case in an attempt to force it before the European Court of Human Rights. A judgement from the European Court of Human Rights would mean that Sweden could be ordered to pay damages for the breach of human rights demonstrated by this case.
Peter Costea, President of the AFR, has stated that, “The proper resolution of this case is of utmost institutional importance to Romanian families, home educators and the protection of both parental and children’s rights.” He went on to say, “The sole contention of the state was that Domenic was being home educated.”
Unfortunately, the European Court of Human Rights is not moving on the case. “It has been rumoured that there may be a court official [in the European Court of Human Rights] who is hostile to anti-Sweden applications,” said Michael Donnelly an attorney who works with international cases for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). He said, “Our hope is that a number of letters inquiring about the case from the public will get the needed attention on the case.”
Ruby Harrold-Claesson, the president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights, said she is “absolutely astonished” that the European Court of Human Rights has not responded to any of the applications submitted on behalf of the family.
READ: Malachi 4:6; Mark 9:42. Also READ: Genesis 2:23-24; Genesis 9:6, 10:5: God instituted the Family before the State! Psalm 24:1; Matt 22:21: the Almighty has put limits on the power he has granted to the State.
PRAY: that this tragic case alerts the people of Sweden, as well as the entire international community, to the scandalous miscarriages of justice being perpetuated by the social services throughout Europe. The Swedish social services are not alone in having a long record of interventionist behaviour. Acting without proof and independent of judicial process, social services can arbitrarily remove children from their parents. Ostensibly for the protection of children, they have become more powerful even than the police. Pray for the children who have become victims to this system.
The UK itself has a track record of similar injustices. This has been a matter of deep concern which Christian Voice has been raising for some years. Social workers are allowed to remove children from their parents without proof of abuse and without a trial, merely because they suspect the parents might be unfit. Moreover, they frequently have incentives for doing so in order to meet adoption targets. (For more information on this, request a copy of our March 2009 newsletter.)
Christian Voice would like to be in touch with young adults in the UK who were taken away from their parents by social services when they were children, and who have now come out the other end. Pray that the Lord will put us in touch with such people.
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
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:
Also contact the Gotland Social Services at any or all of the following addresses:
In writing your letters, ask some of the questions that were posted on the Friends of Domenic blog (http://friendsofdomenic.blogspot.com ) earlier in the month:
- In what court, in this day and age, is it considered justice to deny the accused their choice of legal counsel, and the chance to offer witnesses and testimony supporting their claim of innocence?
- In what court is justice served when a sitting judge is presented written testimony as evidence from doctors and psychiatrists stating the mental health of the accused to be sound, yet this same judge ignores the expert testimony and instead accepts as gospel truth the testimony of child welfare workers, who are neither doctors nor psychiatrists, but who “diagnose” the defendant as having a narcissistic personality disorder?
- In what court is justice served when Eva Ernston, who is paid by the state of Sweden to “represent” Domenic’s interests in court, publicly and indiscriminately boasts to friends and strangers alike, that “Domenic is better off without his weird father”? So much for keeping secret the reason Gotland Social Services has destroyed a family. According to Ernston, it is because Christer Johansson is, in her own words, “weird.”
- In what court is justice served when Domenic’s foster mother tells little Domenic that he will stay with her regardless of what the judge decides, essentially telling the little boy she will break the law, if she has to, to keep him with her?
- In what court is justice served when this same foster mother tells child welfare workers what she told Domenic: that she will not give him back to his parents no matter what the court decides; and upon hearing this declaration, rather than reprimand, correct or otherwise protect Domenic from a foster mother untrustworthy enough to break the law rather than relinquish a child not hers to keep in the first place, the child welfare workers put in an official Gotland Social Services document, word for word what the foster mother told Domenic, then send this document to the Johanssons to further demoralize them?
DONATE: Visit the Friends of Domenic blog at http://friendsofdomenic.blogspot.com / to see how you can donate money to the Johansson’s legal battles.