In a major breakthrough, a Swedish district court has ruled that the parental rights of Annie and Christer Johansson will not be terminated. In its 23-page detailed opinion, the court stated it could not ignore the unanimous and extensive testimony of firsthand accounts of friends, family and others that Dominic Johansson was being properly cared for by his parents prior to Swedish authorities seizing him on June 26, 2009.
The boy and his parents were on board a jetliner minutes from departing Sweden for Annie’s home country of India when Dominic was seized. Authorities justified the taking by pointing to the fact that Dominic was homeschooled. Since then, the family has pursued numerous court actions only to lose in all of them until now.
Ruby Harrold-Claesson, the attorney in the case, said this was a huge development.
“I am absolutely elated!” Claesson said. “This family has suffered horribly for three years at the hands of these Swedish officials. There has not been any justice from the Swedish court system—until now. The social workers and authorities in Gotland have made this family’s life a nightmare for no good reason. I am very pleased that the district court finally saw through the flimsy case and has ruled solidly in favor of the Johanssons.”
HSLDA Attorney and Director of International Relations Michael Donnelly has been following the case closely. He noted the decision with great satisfaction.
Justice at Last
“This is a tremendous day for the Johansson family,” Donnelly said. “HSLDA and the Alliance Defense Fund have been supporting them since Swedish officials took their child—a grotesque abuse of their human rights. Dominic has not been returned home yet, but we have every hope that he will be soon.”
HSLDA Founder and Chairman Michael P. Farris called on Swedish officials to take immediate action: “Swedish officials in this case violated several of this family’s fundamental human rights as recognized by a variety of treaties and conventions. Justice demands an immediate response, and Swedish authorities should return Dominic to his parents immediately.”
HSLDA and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) previously filed a petition to the European Court of Human Rights. The petition was denied recently. Roger Kiska, an ADF staff attorney who has been involved in the case, was encouraged by this new decision from the district court.
“After three years of separation we hope that Swedish officials will take prompt action to restore this family in light of this favorable court decision,” he said. “The Johanssons’ rights under the European Court of Human Rights have been horribly violated. We hope that the ECHR will reconsider its rejection of this application in light of these circumstances and see that justice is done.”
The ruling may pave the way for the restoration of the family even though the specific issue in the current district court case was whether or not the Johanssons’ parental rights would be terminated. The Johansson family had previously filed a request in December 2011 with the family court overseeing the social services case to ask for review of the order that put Dominic into foster care. Swedish law requires that such motions be acted on within four months, but it has been well beyond that time frame without any action by the court or the social workers in the case. The Johanssons’ attorney hopes that this may be the beginning of the end of the nightmare for this family.
“We will ask the court for the immediate return of Dominic Johansson to his parents. Based on the information in this verdict, there can be no justification for keeping this family apart,” Harrold-Claesson said.
Christer Johansson told HSLDA that he felt that things might be finally turning in his favor.
“It feels pretty good to win,” said Dominic’s father. “The social authorities have been running around winning for the last three years. It was pretty important that we won this because, if we didn’t, we would have permanently lost our only child. There is something very wrong with people who would keep a family separated this long for no legitimate reason.”
According to Johansson, his son’s health has deteriorated since being held in foster care.
“This has been a disgusting legal game. The bureaucrats aren’t looking at the big picture. Dominic was healthy before, and since he was taken, his health has gotten worse.”
A review of Domenic’s medical records shows that there have been health issues since he was placed in foster care. The Johanssons’ attorney reported that expert testimony in the case provided by psychologist and professor Trevor Archer indicated that for Domenic’s health and well-being it would be best that he be returned to his parents’ care right away.
Johansson expressed his gratitude for all the support his family has received.
“I don’t think we’d be here today if it weren’t for the support of many thousands of people through their emails, telephone calls and letters,” he said. “We know many people have been paying attention to this, and we are so grateful for their constant and consistent support. We want to say thank you to all of our supporters!”
Donnelly called for immediate action on the behalf of this family.
“Many thousands of families have supported the Johanssons with letters and emails and with their prayers and concern. Now is the time for all concerned supporters to call on the Gotland social services authorities to do the right thing—return Dominic to his parents now!”
Courtesy HSLDA. Used with permission.
Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed.
Publication Date: June 20, 2012