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February 22, 2010

Update: Further Legal Action Being Explored in Johansson Case

In what is becoming an increasingly tragic situation, Christer and Annie Johansson are still separated from their 7-year-old son, Dominic, who remains in the custody of Swedish social services, where he has been since June. Nearly eight months ago Swedish authorities approached the Johanssons as the family was on a plane ready to relocate to India. Police officers took Dominic into custody, per the instruction of Swedish social workers.

Throughout the latter half of 2009, the couple fought to regain custody of their only child as the Swedish courts continually ruled that social services was right to take the boy. The Johansson’s appeal of this decision was rejected by the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden this past December.

HSLDA and the Alliance Defense Fund are jointly advising the family and exploring all available avenues to help reunite Dominic with his family. Swedish social workers have recently visited Christer and Annie and inquired about their current ability to take care of Dominic. According to a Swedish lawyer who spoke with HSLDA anonymously, these visits do not necessarily indicate the possible return of Dominic to his parents. Rather, this attorney said, Swedish social services intends to force the parents into “complete subjugation and compliance with the system.”

Visits between parents and children in custody are tightly regulated. Christer and Annie are only allowed one-hour visits with Dominic, every fifth week.

At times referred to as a “social utopia,” Sweden is completely antagonistic toward homeschoolers and, in reality, anyone who deviates from what the Swedish government defines as “normal.” The government’s quest for conformity produces troubling side effects: the criminalization of actions—such as a parent’s decision regarding the best form of education for his child—that ought to be the hallmarks of a free, democratic society.

The Economist, an English-language international affairs publication, recognized this dichotomy between conformity and freedom in a recently published article. The Economist article drew attention to the state’s placement of Dominic Johansson in foster care. The article also highlighted the plight of another Swedish family, the Angerstigs, whose permission to homeschool has been revoked. The Swedish authorities have threatened Lisa Angerstig, an “MBA-holding mother-of-four,” with a hefty fine.

The Johanssons are grateful for your support and prayers. As they endure unimaginable trauma, they hope that their case shines a light on the problems with the Swedish social services. Taking children from their parents over minor differences in approaches to medical care (e.g. choosing not to vaccinate or delaying minor dental treatments) and for homeschooling is completely at odds with the basic human rights which all Western democracies should reflect.

If you would like to help the family, visit HSLDA’s Johansson Resources page. The more people who protest this action by the Swedish authorities, the greater chance we have of reuniting this family. Thank you for standing with us to defend freedom and a parent's right to determine the best form of education for their child.