Court rules that Christer and Annie Johansson will retain custody of their son; Domenic still in state foster care
Contact: Jeremiah Lorrig, Home School Legal Defense Association, 540-338-5600
GOTLAND, Sweden, June 14, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- In a major breakthrough, a Swedish district court has ruled in favor of Christer and Annie Johansson, parents of now ten-year-old Domenic, and has stated that their parental rights will not be terminated. Attorneys with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) are legal advisors to the parents, who are represented by Ruby Harrold-Claesson of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights.
Domenic's father called the nightmarish situation "a disgusting legal game" and said he feels that things might finally be turning in his family's favor.
"It was pretty important that we won this," explains Christer Johansson, "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."
ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska says the family's human rights have been unimaginably violated.
"The government shouldn't abduct and imprison children simply because it doesn't like home schooling," said 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 reconsider its recent rejection of Domenic's case in light of the Swedish court's determination."
The boy and his parents were on board a jetliner minutes from departing Sweden for Annie's home country of India when Domenic was seized on June 26, 2009. Authorities justified the taking by pointing to the fact that Domenic was homeschooled. Since then, the family has pursued numerous court actions, including a petition to the European Court of Human Rights, only to lose in all of them until now. The district court stated in its opinion that it could not ignore the unanimous and extensive testimony of firsthand accounts of friends, family and others that Domenic Johansson was being properly cared for by his parents prior to Swedish authorities seizing him.
HSLDA Attorney and Director of International Relations Michael Donnelly noted the decision with great satisfaction.
"This is a tremendous day for the Johansson family," Donnelly said. "Domenic 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 Domenic to his parents immediately."
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. Visit us online at www.HSLDA.org