Dad gets jail for son's visit home
The situation involving Christer Johansson has been detailed on the Friends of Dominic Johansson website assembled in support of the child, now 9, and his family.
But the response of the government in Sweden to Johansson's decision to spend some time with his son has outraged two international organizations, both based in the U.S., whose officials have been working on the case.
"Despite the ill-advised decision on the part of Mr. Johansson, the only menace here is a government drunk with its own power," said Roger Kiska, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is working on a legal challenge to Sweden's actions in the European Court of Human Rights.
"No one in Swedish government seems to be paying attention as this system tramples this poor family into the dirt," added Michael Donnelly, with the Home School Legal Defense Association. "It's incredible that after taking Dominic off a plane because he was being homeschooled in June 2009 he is still not home. This is an outrage that all free people should condemn
The blog report said Christer Johansson was having a brief, once-every-five-weeks visit with his son, Domenic, 9, when he decided to leave the state-supervised location and take Domenic home with him.
It happened a week ago.
"Christer had no apparent motive other than to have more time with his son and to allow Dominic's grandparents, who had not seen their grandson in nearly a year-and-a-half, a chance to see their grandchild," the report said.
Two days later, on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Johansson notified authorities he and his son were both at home, and police officers in several police units swooped down on the residential neighborhood, taking custody of Dominic again without even allowing him time to put on a coat in the frigid Swedish winter, the report said.
Dominic has been in custody since mid-2009 because his parents were homeschooling him. He was "state-napped" by police who on social workers' instructions raided a jet about to depart for India and forcibly took Dominic into custody. The Johanssons were in the process of moving to India, Dominic's mother's home country, at the time.
WND reported this fall that a judge in Sweden's administrative court ruled social workers will continue to have custody of Dominic. The boy was seized from his parents June 25, 2009, because he was being homeschooled, had a few untreated cavities in his teeth and had not been given the latest vaccinations scheduled by the government.
Since then, he's been allowed brief visits with his parents, sometimes five weeks apart, and at other times a brief – monitored – telephone call.
"The government shouldn’t abduct and imprison children simply because it doesn't like homeschooling. That's exactly what happened here," said Kiska. "This sad circumstance is what happens when an over-powerful government pushes a parent to the point of desperation, so social services should not pretend to be surprised. The parents complied with everything expected of them, and yet the government continued to keep their son under lock and key.
"Americans beware: This is coming to your doorstep if you are not vigilant about your government," he warned.
"As for the lawsuit at the ECHR, we will continue to defend the legal interests of this child and this family. Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their children’s education without government interference, and that hasn’t changed," he said.
"What do you expect when you treat someone so inhumanely?" Donnelly asked. "Swedish authorities have violated a number of this family's human rights under the European Convention. And our association along with the Alliance Defense Fund will continue to pursue justice for them at the European Court of Human Rights.
"In fact the court ruled on a similar case (K. and T. vs. Finland) in 2001 stating that it was a violation of a family's treaty rights in that case when their child was taken. The court blamed the state when the mother acted irrationally in trying to regain custody of her infant child. In this case, Christer's self-help to an extended visit with Dominic may not have been 'approved,' but can you imagine what it would be like to visit your only child once every five weeks for an hour and a 15 minute phone call every couple of weeks?" Donnelly said.
"Without any reasonable justification for the state keeping him? It's intolerable. Every member of the Swedish parliament, judiciary and executive branch should be ashamed of this treatment of the Johanssons and families like them. This local social services agency and Island government of Gotland should be held accountable."
The blog account of the visit said the treatment of the family by social services agencies "might even [be called] psychological torture."
The report said Christer Johansson, who had been ordered by social services to ignore his son's pleas to return home, now is jailed. He is facing charges of "unlawful detention" or "heavy-handedness with a child."
The blog reported the possible penalty ranges up to 10 years in prison.
Ruby Harrold-Claesson, president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights, briefly worked on behalf of the parents, Christer and Annie, before the local court ordered her off the case.
She told HSLDA, "I have never in 20 years of practice seen a case more badly handled. This family has been so traumatized that they may never recover."
She said an accurate characterization would be that the Swedish government "has grossly violated this family's human rights, both under Swedish law and under the European Convention of Human Rights."
"The social services took this poor little boy and prevented him from leaving with his parents. He is being held a hostage – essentially kidnapped by the Swedish government. It is an absolute embarrassment for Sweden and for every person involved in this case," she said.
According to a website that supports the Johansson family, the head of Sweden's Department of Children and Education, Lena Celion, wrote that it was "for the boy's sake" that agents forcibly and without a warrant took him from his family, placed him with a foster family and enrolled him in a government school.
Gustaf Hofstedt, president of the local social services board, has told WND by telephone from Sweden that there is more to the dispute than homeschooling, but he refused to explain.
"I understand the public debate has been that is a case that is only concerning the fact of homeschooling," he told WND. "But that is not the case."
Asked to explain, he said, "I can't answer that question because of secrecy."
Nov. 30, 2010