From Sweden: Good News For a Family Torn Apart
- By Alan Sears
- Posted Jun 21, 2012
- No Comments »
It’s been more than a year since I first reported the heartbreaking story of a Swedish family enduring the nightmare of having their healthy, happy child forcibly taken from them by overreaching government officials because of their Christian beliefs and actions.
In June, 2009, Christer and Annie Johansson boarded a plane for Annie’s home country of India with their young son, Domenic. Former missionaries, the Johanssons had been in Sweden for a time and were now returning to resume their service among Annie’s people. While waiting for takeoff, their plane was boarded by authorities who forcibly removed Domenic, without even a warrant, accusing the parents of “child neglect” and “isolation” because their son was home-schooled, rather than placed in a “normal” classroom.
Ever since that day – for three years now – those authorities have kept Domenic isolated from his parents, allowing only rare, brief visits, and threatening to curtail even those when Annie cried at the sight of her only son. In December of 2009 – six months after the boy was taken – a Swedish court ruled that the government was within its rights to seize the child.
Because this case has potentially far-reaching impact for parents here in the U.S., Alliance Defense Fund has joined with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) to provide legal support and guidance to the Johanssons, represented domestically by Ruby Harrold-Claesson of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights. All of us have worked in conjunction on applications to the European Court of Human Rights, with ADF serving as lead counsel.
Meanwhile, on June 14, after hearing unanimous and extensive first-hand accounts from friends, family, and others that the Johanssons were properly caring for their son prior to his seizure, a Swedish court ruled that they are fit to exercise parental rights over their son. Thanks be to God, it should be just a matter of time before Domenic is returned to his parents.
“This is a tremendous day for the Johansson family,” says HSLDA Director of International Relations Mike Donnelly, one of more than 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “HSLDA and ADF have been supporting them since Swedish officials took their child–a grotesque abuse of their human rights.”
“The government shouldn’t abduct and imprison children simply because it doesn’t like home schooling,” says ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. “We encourage Swedish authorities to release Domenic to his parents in light of the court’s ruling, and we hope the European Court of Human Rights will now take the case. This family’s human rights have been unimaginably violated.”
Please be in prayer for this family, as they pray for the restoration of their son and for healing after this long, harrowing legal and emotional struggle. And be in prayer, too, for our staff and allied attorneys as we work to defend one of the most basic of all God-given human rights – the right of parents like you to direct the upbringing of your children in the light and truth of the Gospel.
Author: Alan Sears