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December 1, 2015

Swedish Dad: My Family has been “Broken into a Million Pieces”

The Swedish Supreme Court has declined to hear the latest, and possibly last, appeal of Christer and Annie Johansson to be reunited with their son. This ruling paves the way for the parents to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, but that court has not been favorable to this family or to homeschooling-related claims.

This unfortunate precedent casts a dark shadow on the hopes of the Johanssons to be reunited with their son, Domenic, who was snatched by authorities seven years ago. The family has been denied contact with their son for the past five years.

The Johanssons have been represented by attorney Ruby Harrold-Claesson, who is president of the Nordic Committee Human Rights. Claesson represents many families in conflict with Swedish Social Services and has won several judgements from the European Court of Human Rights.

She informed HSLDA of the court’s decision, adding that the members seemed ready to reject the appeal by responding very quickly with a denial.

“This decision really isn’t surprising,” Claesson said, “because the system has to protect its power over every individual, and its prestige when they commit the basest of crimes.”

HSLDA’s Director of Global Outreach Michael Donnelly also commented on the decision.

“This is more of the same cold, callous indifference we’ve seen in the past from the Swedish Supreme Court,” he said. “This court had multiple opportunities to correct a gross injustice, and each time they have turned away. The Swedish state has destroyed this family and, sadly, even if the court agreed to hear the case and overturn the decision—the harm that has been done is virtually irreparable.”

The Johanssons continue to live on the island of Gottland, struggling to make sense of a life darkened by the fact that their son lives within driving distance—but they cannot ever see him again. On September 9, Christer Johansson posted on his Facebook page: “Today is Domenic’s birthday, now he’s 14 years old. We would love to congratulate him, but we just can’t, or to tell the truth, not allowed to.”

Donnelly said that HSLDA will continue to help the family.

“HSLDA, along with organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom, will continue to fight for justice for the Johanssons. It is the right thing to do and in so doing we may help others. But the cold, hard reality is that the Johansson family has, as Christer himself once said, been ‘broken into a million pieces.’ Our hearts should also be broken for this family and others who face similar injustice.”

Roger Kiska, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, noted that the case demonstrates a hardness in Europe against homeschooling and families.

“Domenic should have been returned long ago but for the bureaucratic hardness of the Swedish Child Protection system,” Kiska said. “The behavior of the Swedish officials in this case has been reprehensible, and the fact that the European Court of Human Rights has not engaged in this case is troubling. Families have a right to be respected by the state, and the ECHR should intervene where injustice like this has been perpetrated. We will be working to continue to support the Johansson and call on the Swedish government to correct this injustice by reuniting this family.”

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